Is my book what you came for?  Then link to my free book: A Gift from the Heart

Introduction:

With AOL Hometown being discontinued (sad day) I am forced to find a new “web home” and WordPress seems to offer the resources and flexibility that my fit my style and thus, here I am!  So, with intent to both Blog and host web pages here, we are off and running.

Jim & Pam, and life is very good!

Jim & Pam, and life is very good!

Check out my background in the Pages to the right, beginning with ABOUT and continuing with a little background in the pages below that.

Also, check out the link to my free book, A Gift from the Heart, offered in memory of my heart donor, Roberto Cuebas, who back in October of 1994, lost his life in Brooklyn, NY, but in doing so, saved mine when his heart was donated and transplanted to replace my failing heart over in Philadelphia.  But wait, that’s what the book is all about, so go there to read the full story of the many years he and I have shared since that gift of life was donated.

- Jim Gleason
e-mail: GleasonJim@aol.com

It’s another busy beautiful Summer day here in Lake Wobegon, as my favorite radio showman, Garrison Keillor, would say. Up early and out to a men’s bible study, coming home to enjoy a quiet breakfast (fresh peaches on old fashioned Corn Flakes cereal with Vanilla Almond milk, an interesting blend of the old – those corn flakes were our childhood staple – and the new – that almond milk being better for you than the fat free dairy milk that was the last ‘better for you’ change of habits). Reading as I often do at meals, enjoying one of Garrison’s books (on my Kindle that constantly offers a time count down to the end based on current reading speed and a % finished by page count), my memories flash back on mom’s final day. She and I so enjoyed his recorded stories of life in Lake Wobegon. On that day, she had been sent to the local hospital to get a blood transfusion to offset some recently diagnosed anemia. My sister, Betsy, described the day as mom enjoying her Walkman recorded Keillor stories, laughing as the transfusion takes place over several hours. Once completed, they walked out the doors and mom appeared to be not doing well (76 years young?) but eager to “just get me home” at which point she collapsed and died. Sad for the family given how young she still was and engaged with so many grandchildren and family, but we all have a numbered days on this earth and I felt she was accepting and didn’t want to come back, despite the hospital’s efforts to help her.

We couldn’t have wished her a nicer passing, hours of enjoyable laughing at her favorite stories, quickly and painlessly moving on, in the arms of her daughter, Betsy. God’s blessing for a lifetime of caring for others over 55 years of a nursing career.

As my breakfast reading continued, I phased right into lunch (fresh locally grown Jersey tomatoes and American cheese sandwich on fresh soft bread – an annual Summer treat for me), reading and relating to Garrison’s childhood memories as my own were recalled. Inspired by his writings and finally finishing this book that I’ve been slowly savoring over many months of small readings, often feeling guilty at the seemingly meaningless pleasure of such light reading (vs. my deeper but not fully understood books about black holes, the origins of the universe, multi-universes, self-improvement – with too little turning into action – readings, etc). But we are meant to treat ourselves with such enjoyment, so I was moved to come back into my office and write this blog update that is neglected for too many weeks between entries due to a busy life of higher daily priorities – or so I tell myself.

I’m still deeply committed to finishing ‘our’ book that is way back on the back burner of daily life, with ambitions to add a few more new chapters (and add updates to many other now outdated chapters) in my ‘transplant tome’ of a book (over 100+ chapters already). Reading Garrison’s books inspires me, so today I add this blog, tomorrow I will begin that next new chapter of my “A Gift from the Heart” – raising its priority in that daily TO-DO list of other important tasks. ??????????????

Yes, life is good and fulfilling. I hope and pray that your own life is equally so, filled with meaning, fulfillment, fun and inspiration to do whatever it is that gives meaning to your own life each day.

Now off to begin that ‘new chapter’ updating life after heart transplant since the last entry of too many years ago… stay tuned – I will post a notice when its ready for your reading.

- Jim ‘the heart guy’ celebrating 20 years post transplant this Oct 19th

15M views and counting, and I just discovered it – hope it gets you thinking too:

With LinkedIn in an e-mail promotion today now offering opportunities to publish reflections to share, I took the challenge and posted the following:

Title: The BIG ‘C” for non-profits: Effective Communications

A major challenge for all non-profit organizations (and I’m pretty sure for all groups beyond) is communicating with its network of members and followers (and the community beyond, potential members).  In this short attention span society we live in today where everyone is bombarded daily with so much information from all sides, how can a passionate group get through with that all important message?

Facing that issue myself with several groups, some national in scope, the challenge remains the same no matter the size or cause.  My current thoughts on this challenge are as follows:

1. Who are the intended audience?  This is the first and most basic question that will certainly influence the content and distribution methods of the group’s messages.  Without this foundation answer, or forgetting that target over time, will undermine an organization’s effectiveness in maintaining connection with its members and its resultant strength and purpose.

2. How to get the message in front of that audience?  With so many technology options available at all different costs of money and effort, the target audience may be key to making such choices.  E-mail and web based resources wouldn’t work for a largely non-connected audience, as one example.  Hard copy, mailed (expensive to produce and distribute!) material may still work for some but most groups today are converting to the more efficient electronic document with its added features of no-cost color and live links to expanded content, videos and engaged feedback through surveys, not to mention the cost efficiency of every increasing postal mailing and outsourced print/mail services. In my own recent experience that change resulted in a $12,000 annual expense reduction to just under $400 a year, but that was only the surface benefit as you will see later.

3. How will we know success? If we can’t measure results, how can we know what is working and what isn’t, a key to refining efforts to consistently improve results over time?  Many electronic tools, like Constant Contact, make tracking traffic and engagement reporting easy, but even then, is the reader actually reading and acting on our messaging?  OPENs and CLICK-THROUGHs, while easily reported, are not the same as tracking responsive action.  Be prepared for some disappointment when you see those reports on readership.  My personal experience was a mixed blessing, seeing what was better than an industry average was very disappointing in seeing only about a third of the audience even opening the e-mail and only a third of that linking to the intended electronic newsletter.  But at least we now knew that fact.  Previously a very expensive distribution of hard copy may have been ignored and discarded, suspected but we didn’t have any facts.  Another organization spent a year asking readers to renew their free subscription to a bi-monthly very expensive glossy magazine to find only about 10% actually acted upon that request.  They redirected those funds to improving their electronic messaging resources, putting out the same information but without that major expense.  It’s very hard to address a problem you don’t know about.

4. What actions are we driving for?  While content may be interesting, typically messaging is intended to be more than entertainment for most organizations that have a serious ’cause’ behind their mission.  The purpose of most messaging is to move the reader to take some type of action.  The question then becomes have we conveyed what it takes to catch the reader’s attention enough to drive them to act on the recommended ‘take home’ action – or did we maybe forget to close with that ‘call to action’, leaving the sale unsold?

5. What opening topic line will motive the reader?  With so much competition for a reader’s attention, the third question behind defining the target audience and how to distribute the message, is what will it take to get the receiver to stop and actually open and then read the message.  The art of the attention grabbing subject line or article title is key, a phrase that will be uniquely of interest to the intended audience.  That “lure” must go beyond what we feel is of interest, instead, be looked at from the reader’s view and that may be a very different subject/phrase.  I’ve found a good source of learning that skill is to watch ‘best practices’ of highly skilled and well-funded sources focused on large audiences such as daily stories and videos on MSN, AOL or Huffington Post who face the same readership challenges with some well refined examples to follow.

While “the BIG ‘C’ ” often refers to Cancer, for organizations I feel that that big C is the challenge of Effective Communications, an ongoing issue that deserves our focus and efforts if we are to accomplish the purpose behind our ’cause’ with this non-profit group.

For me, this is definitely ‘a work in progress’ for which I am searching hard for answers.  I see the same for almost all organizations, so I don’t feel alone.  But it’s obviously a complex issue that deserves our attention.  Hopefully my reflections shared above will motivate others to share how they are addressing the issue in their own environments so we can all learn from each other and benefit our audiences with more effective communications and engaged follow-up action, in turn making this world a better place to live.

Last week a long time colleague and close friend of 44 years passed away. Attending his funeral this past Saturday, I was honored to not only stand in as a pallbearer (thanks to one of his family giving up his place of that honor), but also given time to share a special testimony of Mario memories. Mario DiBenedetto was a mentor to many and a very close friend to a special few of us.

On behalf of those who live too distant to have been able to attend, I offer the following recording of a sharing on behalf of all of us on Youtube at 

….you should enjoy this video created by his friends (and some celebrities) singing his song that he wrote, “Clouds” – what a testimony.

PS: Zach passed away in May of 2013, leaving a beautiful legacy and testimony to life.

…on the flip side of a recent mailed clipping was this NY Times article about studies of why on-line videos go viral – interesting article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/20/science/why-that-video-went-viral.html
The article has links to four video examples (but it was hard to find the links in that article, so I’m making it easier for you here):
This one, called BABY, got over 32,000,000 views – check it out at:
I remember myself drawn into another video called FIRST KISS that now has over 82,000,000 views – check it out at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpbDHxCV29A&feature=youtu.be  (you can actually make money with viral videos, so not sure what someone made with this 82M clicks video)
and one of a girl quitting her job got 18M views at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpbDHxCV29A&feature=youtu.be
and this Home Depot marriage proposal got over 12M at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4HpWQmEXrM
So what makes you click through on a posted video (if you do at all)?

 

And yet another emotional example in this article (just so you do’t miss it) is this one about a young dying cancer patient who is leaving the world a better place with his music and inspired living each day, titled MY LAST DAYS: MEET ZACH SOBIECH:

 

The video tells the whole story:

So go on out there today and feel your own beauty, patch or no patch!  And let me say to you: “You are beautiful!”  (yes, even you men out there)

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