Cabinet Gorge Dam, just outside Huron, Montana on the Idaho border: the spot where Glacial Lake Missoula floods started.  Photo by the author.

Cabinet Gorge Dam, just outside Huron, Montana on the Idaho border: the spot where the Glacial Lake Missoula floods started. Photo by the author.

I love technology.  In today’s business section of The Oregonian is a wonderful story about energy-generating water pipes being tried out in Portland for the first time (http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2015/01/portland_company_that_built_ci.html). As with most great ideas, it’s so simple you have to wonder why someone didn’t think of it sooner.  Here in the West, we’ve always been blessed with hydroelectric power, relying on the mechanical energy of water moving through dams to provide our electricity.  We’ve started to experiment with wave action in the ocean. The key has been moving water – the mechanical energy generated by moving water.

A group of engineers here in Portland apparently thought “Hmmm. Water is moving through pipes all over the city. Can we do something with that?” They could – and did. The moving water powers four generators and will provide electricity to about 150 homes in the area, the second test project for Lucid Energy.

I wrote my master’s degree capstone paper on public relations models for land use and natural resource issues in the American West, so I get really excited when I learn about something that makes so darn much common sense and can save both water and electric companies some money. Moreover, if we continue to see decreasing snow packs in the mountains, this source of electricity will prove to be critical.

If this company ever goes public, I’m buying stock. We should all stay tuned.

Of all the things I teach in public relations,  these two topics – legal and ethical issues – are probably my favorite.  They form the foundation of our public communication, and we can’t even conduct effective research – the rest of our foundation – without understanding these two topics.

I always make a point of saying that our profession rests on the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It’s important here to remember that free speech and freedom of the press are protected by our government – and interpreted by the courts. Our freedom of speech is not without limits; and our freedom of the press seems to have become usurped in recent years by rampant commercialism, even though it’s obvious that any media outlet needs a source of revenue to survive.

The recent shootings in Paris have touched a strong nerve all over the world because of the threat to these freedoms, and some people have criticized the fact that what happened in Paris eclipsed the tragedies in Nigeria in the news – in which over 2,000 people were killed.  It’s a valid criticism, but not without tremendous complications: see http://m.theatlantic.com/…/boko-harams-quiet-destru…/384416/

It seems to me that social media has made all the difference in world-wide awareness about freedom of speech, freedom of the press, transparency and authenticity.  People are used to finding out what they want to know; they are used to expressing their opinions.  In those countries where there is neither of these freedoms, severe restrictions have proved to be fairly permeable, i.e., information still seeps through. For a long time, it seemed like it was inevitable that the barriers would come down, and all countries would understand the need for free speech – and for those things protected by free speech laws, including satire and comments about public officials and about public meetings.

It doesn’t seem so inevitable anymore. Now, as the march in Paris just demonstrated (and the U.S. was entirely remiss not to be there with other world leaders), it’s going to take a world-wide effort to protect both freedom of the press and freedom of speech. It’s on all of us.  The map below is the 2014 Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders at  http://rsf.org/index2014/en-index2014.php.  You might be surprised that the U.S. in nowhere near the top of the list; read the full article to understand more – and get ready to defend your constitutional rights.



Jan. 6, 2016

From time to time I’ve mentioned that practicing good public relations is basically practicing good manners. You wouldn’t tIMGP0389reat your best friend rudely or callously – at least, not if you wanted the friendship to last for years. In the same way, companies and organizations which want their relationships to last treat their many target publics with respect and courtesy. From the front-line employees to customers and vendors; from financial backers to regulators to vendors; from local media to the surrounding community to industry leaders — even to adversaries – respect and courtesy lay the groundwork for longevity in an organization and those it serves. We all know this in public relations, but I wonder if sometimes we forget how important the small, daily moments are along the way.Group of business people sitting around a table compressed

Today, I’m reminded of these things because there have been four deaths in the past three weeks which have greatly affected me. They remind me that you never know when it’s the last time you’ll see someone, have a great time with friends or family, or enjoy a good conversation with a colleague.

The first death, the week before Christmas, was the 47-year-old daughter of my wonderful neighbors and friends here on the cul-de-sac. Wendy had battled cancer for the last 18 months; the doctors had finally told her they didn’t know what else to do for her, and sent her home. While my neighbors Bill and Deb are glad Wendy is no longer suffering, they have no idea how to cope with the loss of a child. They know their world will never be the same.

The second death was the 51-year-old brother of my good friend and “second son,” Vance. I’ve been the beneficiary of friendships throughout Vance’s family, from his father, Phil, to his other brothers, to his fiancé, Liz. Vance and his former wife had to bury a stillborn baby years ago, so Vance knows a little about what his father is going through now. Phil is certain his late wife was ready to greet his son in heaven, and maybe, indeed, she was. We all hope.

Those two deaths have been difficult because people I deeply care about are in such pain from them. The two most recent deaths, however, have knocked me off my feet.

The first was Mike Herman, known to so many of us throughout PRSA as the quintessential PR guy with the biggest heart and with true-blue friendship. Mike is also known throughout the world of country western music, a beloved figure who jammed and performed with the best. I got the news on Facebook three mornings ago, and found myself unexpectedly bursting into tears. It’s not that Mike and I were best friends, we weren’t; it’s just the fact that he was willing to be friends with me at all that was so wonderful. He was that super-human of a person in my eyes. When I was ready to get my knee replaced, he sent me the entire journal he’d kept of his own knee replacements. When I was designing a class on communicating for the public good – trying to change the way we communicate in this country so that we promote and encourage working together, building what we need, instead of tearing each other down – he wrote and asked if I’d contribute to a column he planned to start this month on change. Just hours before he collapsed in his kitchen in North Carolina, I’d read his last two posts on Facebook. Then he was gone.

And today. Today, I couldn’t reach a graphic artist I’ve worked with for years in Missoula (Montana). So I pulled up the local Missoulian online just in case there was news I should have seen, and on a whim, clicked on the obituaries. One of my best friends from my years in Montana, Mary, had passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage. Mary. My friend of 30 years; my Glacier Park buddy who loved to play pranks on the tourists. My buddy who was up for a good movie, a trip to Coldwater Creek and some shopping, or just a good meal out. Mary, who became a huge advocate for the disabled because of her beloved grandson, Sammy. This past September was the first time in maybe 20 years that I’d gone to Glacier without Mary, who hadn’t felt up to it. So when I left the park and swung down to Missoula for a visit, I spent an afternoon with her. Of course I did.

I just didn’t know it was the last time. I didn’t know that when Mike and I emailed each other about a possible collaboration that it would be our last direct contact. I didn’t know, when I went to Las Vegas last summer to see Vance and his family for the first time in many years, that I would be glad for the growth of our closeness as they all go through this period of mourning. And I didn’t know, when I attended a dinner at Bill and Deb’s house and their daughters and friends were all there, that I would not see that kind of laughter and joking around in their home again.

It’s good thatskiing email we don’t always know it’s the last time while the event is happening. I’m glad I didn’t know it was  the last time I’d go downhill skiing when I was with my grandsons at Schweitzer Mountain in Idaho some years ago. I just remember the fun that it was, and how giddy I felt that my grandsons were impressed that their grandma’ could ski.

I’m glad I didn’t know it was the last time I would see my mother alive that October night that my daughter and I cooked her dinner in her Spokane retirement community. I just remember the uproarious laughter and teasing, the fun with the grandkids – her great-grandsons – and how relaxed Mom was for the first time in years. The evening was so darn much fun. Had I known she would be dead a week later, I wouldn’t have felt so free to enjoy that night. Years later, that night still shines, untinged by sorrow.

I have to think it’s equally good if we conduct our businesses and organizations with the same focus and attention to the moment – and to each other. How often in our professional lives do we get so caught up in the business of busyness that we put off reaching out to each other, or neglect to extend that one little courtesy, or forget to do a favor for a colleague? Do we write the thank-you notes we know we want to write, but which get buried under press deadlines? How often do we mistake busyness with productivity, and forget, however briefly, that we’re the ones who are supposed to be good at connecting and establishing relationships? Recently a friend has decided to stop “liking” posts on Facebook in favor of actually taking the time to write a line or two. How much richer life will be for her and for all of us by taking those few moments.

It’s a matter of time, a matter of good manners, and a manner of being there, attentive, in the moment. That way, if it all ends tomorrow, we’ll still have moments we can look back on and cherish. We’ll still know we contributed IMG_0439something in our profession, made the lives of our clients a little better and a little easier, created something in the community that was not there before. We’ll know we loved our families and friends to the best of our abilities. And we’ll remember those who took the journey with us, who shared the laughter and the tears. Those are the moments we’ll remember.

View from the Portland Japanese Gardens looking east over the city to Mt. Hood.

Before I left on Christmas break, I read this editorial in the Oregonian:  http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/12/why_climate_change_will_not_be.html  – or, “Why climate change will not be on our 2015 editorial agenda.” 

I was stupefied, to say the least. These are the Oregonian’s justifications:

1) “We seldom discuss climate change, rather, because we focus almost exclusively on state and local matters. Weighing the costs and benefits of climate-change policy is best done at the federal and international levels.”

2) “We do sometimes write about state-level climate-change regulation, and almost never favorably. Why not? Because, again, weighing the costs and benefits of climate change policy is best handled at the federal and international levels. Oregon represents 1.2 percent of the population of the United States, which itself represents only 4.4 percent of the global population. It requires either profound myopia or incredible arrogance to pretend that any policy adopted by Oregon lawmakers will have a meaningful effect on the earth’s temperature. That’s why supporters so often justify state-level policies as beneficial exercises in leadership.”

Bay at Yachats

Yachats Bay in the afternoon light.

Fortunately, before I returned several people had written letters to the editor stating their objections to this type of thinking. There are more comments than I’ve quoted here, but suffice it to say I have nothing to add to these excellent remarks and am extremely relieved that many Oregonians seem to have much more common sense, and be much more knowledgeable, than The Oregonian’s editorial board:

Jim Sjulin wrote, “Justified by its belief that we in the Portland area can’t do anything about anyway, the board has not only communicated total disinterest in what is probably the most significant issue of our time, it has also reinforced the idea of non-participation – the lowest and most inexcusable level of democracy.  Don’t discuss and work on climate change issues, don’t advocate for change, don’t protest and don’t vote; just site there and wonder why somebody doesn’t do something.  This is easily the most cynical position that I have ever seen expressed by The Oregonian editorial board.”  (Letters to the Editor, Dec. 28)

Scott Mandel wrote, “First of all, it requires incredible myopia to believe that, due to its population, the U.S. contributes to only 4.4 percent of the problem, or that it is not a major player in helping find solutions.  Secondly, it is those people or places that seemingly have the least power to effect change that need to speak the loudest because they are harmed the most by the arrogance of the majority of those in power.” (Letters to the Editor, Dec. 28)

Wayne P. Stewart wrote, “…Well, how about considering what climate change will mean to Oregonians?

  • As more carbon dioxide is absorbed by the oceans, acidity will increase, causing reproductive problems for shellfish – leading to fewer fishing jobs;
  • Sea level rise will increase coastal erosion and flooding of low-lying areas, causing the loss of private property and increase public maintenance costs; (Images of Oregon coastal erosion here: http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=oregon+coastal+erosion&qpvt=Oregon+coastal+erosion&FORM=IGRE)
  • Warming ocean waters will lead to more intense storms, causing damage to public and private infrastructure;
  • Rising temperatures will reduce snowpack, meaning less summer irrigation water for farmers, the loss of skiing and recreation jobs, and less suitable water conditions for salmon and trout;
  • Increase forest fire intensity and fire season duration will mean increase firefighting costs and the loss of forestry jobs;  (http://photos.oregonlive.com/oregonian/2014/07/buzzard_complex_of_fire_east_o.html)
  • Rising temperatures will encourage forest and agricultural pests and invasive species to move northward, increasing containment costs and leading to reduced others.” (Letters to the Editor, Dec. 28, 2014)

There’s not much to add – except to wonder how on earth The Oregonian’s editorial board has managed to live on another planet while we’re seeing such rapid – and local – changes on this one.

Many thanks to the Oregonian, which ran this editorial opinion today, Oct. 19, 2014, here:  http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/10/online_classes_can_serve_stude.html

By Kathryn Hubbell

In response to Ramin Farahmandpur’s Oct. 12 “In My Opinion” column, “Online courses shortchange their students,” I would like to defend online learning. I have taught both online and on-campus classes at Marylhurst University for the past six years, and prior to that earned my master’s in communications management from Syracuse University. The Syracuse program involved spending the first week of each term on campus, then finishing up via online learning from home. I was running my public relations firm in Montana at the time; the program meant I did not have to move in order to get the degree I wanted.

The experience at Syracuse was so good that when I came to Oregon and began teaching online classes at Marylhurst, I took those lessons into my virtual classrooms. Here are more of the benefits I’ve found to online classes:

I frequently get to know my students better online because they’ll tell me things through their student surveys and e-mails that they would not feel comfortable telling me face-to-face.

Because we teach many older, working adults at Marylhurst, an online class gives them the flexibility to juggle school with families and jobs. For some people, it’s the best and only way to get a college education. These students are driven and dedicated.

To make online learning more personal, I make small videos about once a week in order to explain something more in-depth, as do other professors on campus. When students can see and hear their instructor, they feel a greater connection to the class.

I also need to see and hear my students. I may have them produce video introductions of themselves, schedule video conference calls and phone calls or meet them on campus if they are local and need help. It’s always worth the extra effort.

A January 2013 article in The New York Times seems to validate this approach to online learning, saying: “Moreover, there are early indications that the high interactivity and personalized feedback of online education might ultimately offer a learning structure that can’t be matched by the traditional classroom.”

The price of our online classes is not reduced, which makes sense to me. Online teaching and learning both take more time and self-discipline than on-campus teaching and learning. The work can be harder on both sides in order to get the same results.

Farahmandpur wrote, “Collaboration, communication and community service are key to an engaging and relevant college experience.” I agree. Our online students continually talk with each other in discussion boards long after deadline; it’s often hard to keep up. They may collaborate on class projects; in our social media class they also collaborate on the instruction, since no one person has the answer. In addition, each student is assigned to work with a real-life organization in order to learn effective public relations. That’s service learning.

Granted, there are areas where online learning does not work. Music would be one example; certainly there are more. But in this day and age, the effective use of sophisticated technology brings a greater learning experience, both online and on campus. Using technology also prepares our students well when they go into new careers that demand the use of technology.

At a conference workshop in Washington, D.C., last weekend, I listened to Dr. Susan Aldridge, vice-president for online learning at Drexel University, talk about using avatars and simulators in medical school online classes. This is how students learn today, she said.

Perhaps the most inspirational online student I’ve had to date came through my classes last year. She was homeless, logging in from another state where she had received special grant money for her tuition. She joined on-campus classes via Skype and participated in online classes the same as everyone else. Once she reported reading her textbook by the light of her car. Often, she couch-surfed, begging friends and relatives for a place to stay. I worked with her closely all year, impressed by her drive. She earned her certificate in public relations on schedule, meeting the exact same requirements that our on-campus students must meet. I could not be more proud.

A Facebook post I made today in reaction to the Reynolds High School shooting – only about 6 miles from my home:

Facebook friends and family, don’t assume for a moment that there is not a shooter in your neighborhood and/or your school district, thinking that a gun is the answer. One of the reasons you can’t assume this is the prevalence of the mentally ill among us, who have tried to get treatment – or whose family has tried to get them treatment – but can’t, because they have not yet been proven a danger to society. That’s like our age-old problem of not putting a stop sign at an intersection until a child has died there, even though people have said for years that the intersection is unsafe. We never seem to be proactive, to think ahead, to imagine consequences of not acting; we’re always reactive, as if the incident, the thought, the idea, had never occurred to us before. Incredibly naive, if not downright stupid and inexcusable. We need to take care of each other, and we need to care enough to help prevent these shootings. That includes families who own guns keeping them locked up and away from their children – I’m also sick to my stomach reading about little 3-and 4-year-olds finding loaded guns and pulling the trigger. We need to question our own mentality as a country that we have a love affair with guns; that we unhesitatingly watch violence on TV and in the movies, and consider it entertainment; that we somehow STILL manage to think, as some have expressed this morning, “I didn’t think it could happen here.” It can, it does, it will continue – because we, as a country, do not have the will to rise up and stop it. It’s not entirely up to our elected representatives; it’s also up to us. Public opinion can move mountains; I haven’t worked in public relations for over 30 years not to know that.

A response to Rory McEntyre’s guest opinion column in this morning’s Oregonian, complaining that he can’t get hired because of his facial piercings and tattoos (see   www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/05/portlands_tolerance_is_otheverrat.html#incart_river):

Mr. McEntyre, what you are not recognizing is that your appearance is more important to you than anything else – such as finding a good job.  You don’t want to change your appearance in any way for any reason, yet you berate others who judge you on it.  Well – you can’t have it both ways.  Women the world over can tell you what it’s like to be judged on appearance.  People with physical challenges and deformities can tell you what it’s like to be judged on appearance.  As a very general rule, I think it’s safe to say that most of us try to present an appearance suitable to our jobs and our circumstances, and most of us do not define ourselves solely by our appearance.

You seem to identify yourself solely by your appearance.  It is so important to you, that it doesn’t matter to you that it prevents people from seeing who you might be underneath; yet now you rant about it.  You have it within your control to change it, but you’d rather complain. Those piercings are more important to you than a job.  Believe me, if people born with physical deformities, or people who have gone through horrific life experiences such as a fire which disfigured them, or a war which caused the amputation of a couple of limbs, could look “whole” again, I’ve no doubt they would love it.

But do you realize what a lot of those folks do?  They work super hard to make use of what they cannot change; they work super hard to maintain a good attitude, to have a sense of humor, to develop other skills to compensate for what they lack – and they often outshine the rest of us.  But you?  You have an appearance totally within your control, and you blame others for not accepting you.  Look in your inward mirror; it isn’t other people causing your problem, it’s you.  As someone said in the comments below your article, it’s time to grow up.

Try to look inside yourself and understand why your piercings are more important to you than putting a roof over your head; why your appearance is so extremely important to you that it’s become how you define yourself, instead of any interior qualities or education you may actually have.  I’m so sorry for you; you may be a very gifted man, but you seem to have a compulsion to hide those things and put your appearance first – everything, absolutely everything, revolves around your appearance.  That is the message people are getting when you show up to apply for a job, and that is why they don’t hire you.  You actually don’t want them to see past your appearance – and they can’t.  Their fault?  Don’t think so; the fault, dear Brutus, lies within yourself.

Somebody on CNN this morning asked if the situation at VA hospitals – waiting months for care and possibly being put on a secret waiting list – is a recent   development, almostCollage2 a singular incident, or if this is a systematic problem.

Oh, it’s more than systematic.  It’s endemic.  It’s embedded in the VA culture. Veterans don’t just wait months for care – they often wait years – and this has been the situation since at least Viet Nam, if not before.

Back in 2000, I started getting involved with the protests against the experimental, highly reactive, and sometimes deadly anthrax vaccine that was being forced on troops deployed to certain areas.  If they didn’t take this experimental drug they could – and usually did – receive a dishonorable discharge.  If they took the vaccine, and thousands upon thousands did, they might develop tumors and cysts, severe bone and joint pain, terrible, ongoing migraines, partial loss of vision or hearing, vertigo, grand mal seizures, sudden blood pressure spikes and drops; the women might hemorrhage and find themselves unable to bear children; the men might lose testosterone permanently.  The list is too long to repeat here.

And that would just be the beginning.  Trying to get medical-boarded out of the service with a reasonable disability rating would always be the first major bureaucratic hurdle.  In those days, the military refused to admit any connection between the vaccine and a service member’s subsequent disability; certainly military doctors didn’t understand or recognize the symptoms at the time. Too often, service members were told that their symptoms – many of which were invisible to an observer – were all in their head; they were told they had mental problems, or were depressed.  After going through months, and sometimes years, of not being believed about their illnesses, of trying to get through each day in terrible pain, I always thought it was perfectly natural for them to become depressed… that was a result of how they were treated, not a cause of their symptoms.

Once out of the service, getting treated by the VA was the next major hurdle.  The common rating for disability – if a person didn’t get in and fight it – was 10 percent.  Ten percent!!!  Almost nothing – for someone who could no longer carry out his military duties.  And the waiting period for treatment was usually two years.   — And that was if a service member lived close enough to a VA hospital to get the care needed. 

What happened in the meantime?  These disabled service members were not getting the treatment they needed, or were paying civilian doctors out of their own pockets trying to find answers.  Too often, they were unable to work.  They lost their jobs – they lost their cars – they lost their homes – and their marriages very often broke apart under the strain.  Not a few of them literally went to live in the woods, homeless and alone, and rejected by – us.  Those they serve.

What I’d like to know, Congress is this: why did it take you so damn long to notice?  Where have you been?  You say you support our troops, but after you issued the 1994 Rockefeller Report calling on the military to stop its medical experimentation on our service members – and included the anthrax vaccine in that last – you did nothing to enforce it.  We’re supposed to have civilian oversight of the military in this country, but those civilians we elect to the highest offices in the land do not seem to have spines – or eyes and ears.

So it takes a scandal like a secret list causing veterans to die while they wait before this suddenly becomes an issue.  I’ve got news for you, media people and Congress and Americans: our veterans have been dying for a long, long time waiting for the right care from the VA.  To make matters worse, some of those deaths are suicides – because nobody believed, or helped search for the right treatments.  It’s better to wait for a whole generation to die, we get that.  That’s why it’s only been in the last few years that Agent Orange was recognized as the presumptive cause of severe medical problems for the troops (http://www.banderasnews.com/1004/vl-davidlord05.htm).  Delay payment and responsibility for as long as humanly possible, then say, “Whoops.  We were wrong.”

My cynicism is hard-earned; most of it comes from the veterans themselves.  These problems didn’t just start; this is not a sudden, new development.  It’s been going on for years.  To this day, when veterans write in to us at www.mvrd.org,  we have to counsel them on how to work with, and sometimes fight with, the VA to get the disability ratings and the treatment they need.

Kick out Secretary of Veterans Affairs Shinseki? Accept Dr. Petzel’s resignation? Band-aid measures; these do nothing to address the real problems.  They inherited this mess, they didn’t cause it. The real problems have a lot more to do with how we proudly send our sons and daughters off to war, encouraging them to give all for their country – but don’t want to pay for it when they come back injured, debilitated, depressed, and permanently changed.  It’s part of the cost of war – the fact that our men and women come back disabled, sometimes with illnesses that are not visible.  It’s part of the deal, yet we seem to refuse to step up to the plate in a timely, caring manner. Meanwhile, too many veterans languish in their homes or homeless shelters – or in the woods – unable to continue to fight.


We think we support our troops and veterans in this country.  Not by half; not by half.


There are many reports out there telling older workers that no one wants them, or that they will have a lot of difficulty finding a job. One such report in U.S. News two years ago listed misconceptions about older workers, such as short terms on the job if they planned to retire soon; higher salary expectations; and reluctance to report to younger bosses (http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/planning-to-retire/2012/05/18/why-older-workers-cant-get-hired). Fortunately, a number of articles since then have refuted the myths (http://www.recruiter.com/i/truth-and-lies-about-hiring-older-workers/), detailing why hiring older workers is a very good idea.

Brian Solis, an expert in social media public relations whose work I use in my classes at Marylhurst University quite a lot, reminds us that one of the things Baby Boomers bring to the office is a “raw work ethic.” He gives an excellent guide to Millennials navigating the workplace in this article: http://www.briansolis.com/2014/04/millennials-guide-surviving-corporate-america/ – and advocates for mutual respect between the generations.

Group of business people sitting around a table compressed
I teach a lot of older workers, and I’m one myself. Let me weigh in for a moment on some of the great, practical attributes older workers bring to their jobs – and by “older,” I mean more than Baby Boomers. I also mean workers aged, say, 35 to 70 or so, encompassing at least a couple of generations:

• This isn’t their first rodeo; nearly all older workers have either held a job recently, or are holding one now while they’re going to school. I’ve always said that when I tell my adult students to turn left, they turn left; when I tell them to march straight ahead, they do; if I say it’s time to jump, they jump as high as they can. This comes from knowing what it takes to hold down a job; they know how to follow instructions. They will readily ask for clarification and the rationale for those instructions, which I always appreciate; they want the whole picture.
• Older workers have learned to take criticism – constructive or not. They’ve developed fairly thick skins over the years, and if they need to hear something negative in order to improve their performance, then so be it. They’ve learned not to take everything personally, and often that comes with plain old experience.
• No, older workers are not as enamored with social media, but they know how to use those social media outlets in a very important way – as an implementation of sound business strategy, not just as a forum for chatting. Moreover, older workers are keenly aware that social media tools are just that – tools for communicating. Actual communication depends upon content, response, and a two-way conversation. It doesn’t depend on the latest online innovation.
• Older workers know that what is fast is not always better.
• Older workers tend to be loyal to their employers. For the most part, they aren’t job-hopping, looking for the next, exciting opportunity somewhere across the country. They work because they need to work, even up to and often beyond the age of 70, and because they like to work and value the feeling of being needed. They are often content with part-time jobs and flexible schedules. We live in a society that does not value us as we age. What a waste. We have vast repositories of information and experience to pass along. We are the storytellers.
• As much as older workers know that fast is not always better, they can be extremely fast at the jobs they’re assigned – because they’ve done all this before. They know the drill. If a senior public relations practitioner takes three sheets of information and writes a press release from that information in about half an hour, it’s because she knows how to cull out the information that isn’t really relevant, isn’t all that important, and doesn’t help make the point. That ability to cut to the chase comes from years of experience, and from years of developing a mind that thinks strategically and is capable of seeing the consequences of decisions.
• Older workers make great mentors and teachers to the younger generations coming up through the ranks. Having a huge amount of energy is great for any business, yes; but so is having someone with a steadying hand on the tiller, who can help steer a ship that might start to careen off course. That larger perspective is a valuable and steadying influence.
????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? • Finally, older workers know how the world works. They don’t tend to be so singularly focused that the changes in society and the world around them are surprising or a mystery to them. They’ve been out there dealing with people and situations and circumstances for a long time, and the result is that they understand the needs of their employers and of other people.

Hire an older worker. You’ll get great value for the dollar.



Jordan’s story

Jordan’s story

Jordan's winning photo

This is the photo that resulted in Jordan being named one of 10 finalists word-wide – and the only one from North America – in Sony’s international student photography contest.  Marylhurst University is extremely proud! Copyright Jordan VanSise, 2014.