One Idea, One Collaboration: The Voice Heard ‘Round the World

Dr. Deanna Attai, Alicia Staley and Jody Schoger

(L-R): Dr. Deanna Attai, Alicia Staley and Jody Schoger

It’s easy to second guess yourself, to doubt if your idea will work, if anyone will be interested or even care. Sometimes you need a little faith.

I first met Jody in college through a mutual friend. We were all public relations majors at Kent State University. Right away I noticed – and appreciated – her intelligence and refreshing sense of humor. We would see each other on campus, at parties or other events. I never really knew her well, rather, I kept up to date on what was happening in her life through our mutual friend.

After college, Jody and her husband moved a few times, and they finally landed in the Houston area while I remained in Ohio. About a decade ago, we reconnected through LinkedIn. Every once in a while we would share an email or private message to stay in touch. I am so very appreciative of social media, because it allows us to remain current with our network of contacts.

Four years ago, when I knew I was traveling to Houston for business, I contacted Jody to see if we could meet for coffee. We met at the airport a few hours before my plane’s departure. I can honestly say, of all the years I knew Jody, that one conversation was the best we ever shared because we were focused on each other, with no distractions. That’s when she shared with me what she was doing with her life.

As a breast cancer survivor (Jody was in remission when we met for coffee), she began looking at social media as a way to reach other survivors. Through Twitter, Jody connected with Alicia Staley, another breast cancer survivor, who became a collaborator. On July 4, 2011, they hosted their first live tweet chat for breast cancer survivors. That initial tweet chat has grown into a standing weekly chat, helping survivors around the world. Soon, Dr. Deanna Attai, a breast cancer surgeon, would join in on the conversations as co-moderator. The three created a dynamic team, which resulted in The Breast Cancer Social Media (BCSM) community; #BCSM on Twitter. The BCSM community is comprised of patients, caregivers, physicians, researchers, and advocates. While you are celebrating Fourth of July festivities, take a moment to celebrate BCSM’s fifth anniversary on that day!

Here’s the one big idea: To use social media to reach breast cancer survivors with evidence-based education and support. As a public relations professional and gifted writer, Jody began researching and writing articles of interest to women and men who were going through the experiences of surgery, treatment, or remission. Beyond the weekly Tweet chats, BCSM developed into an amazing online community, reminding breast cancer survivors that they were not alone and that their voices were being heard. Jody and her colleagues delivered presentations at medical conferences.

Shortly after we met for that cup of coffee, Jody’s cancer returned. Through it all, she continued to write, post, and share valuable information and anecdotal content about the disease. Her battle with cancer finally ended on May 18. She is now at peace. USA Today contributor Liz Szabo captured Jody’s essence in a beautiful tribute.

What a tremendous gift Jody gave to women and men around the globe. Her legacy of education and support lives on. Because of BCSM, breast cancer survivors receive comprehensive information and the love and support they need to manage the disease. And it all began with one question, one idea, that led to a collaborative, caring online community that is transforming lives.

Jody’s persistent work reminds us of one important message: Don’t ever underestimate the power that you possess…to bring your voice to the world.


All In, Against All Odds, the Cleveland Cavaliers is a Team Built on Trust


National Basketball Association

Anyone who has read Patrick Lencioni’s seminal book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, knows that when lack of trust exists in a team, the team will implode. Real trust, on the other hand, builds a solid foundation for any team’s success. Trust is what we have witnessed in the Cleveland Cavaliers this season. Trust provided an iron-clad bond that allowed the team to rise above adversity and win the 2016 NBA championship.

Trust perseverance. At the beginning of this NBA season, no one predicted that the Cleveland Cavaliers would make it into the finals, let alone win the national championship. Yet, that’s exactly what happened on June 19. Against all odds, the Cavaliers made NBA history, coming back from trailing the Golden State Warriors 3-1 at the end of Game 4. The Cavaliers is the first team in NBA history to win a championship from such a significant deficit stance, especially facing a team with the “most games won” record in the NBA this year.

Trust ability. The synergy between LeBron James and Kyrie Irving was palpable. In Game 5, the dynamic duo each scored 41 points in the game, breaking an NBA record. In Game 7, LeBron James stormed down the court at record speed to powerfully block Warriors player Iguodala’s layup, now known as The Block. Moments later, Kyrie Irving outmaneuvered Steph Curry’s defensive block and shot a three-pointer, another game changing move.

Trust risks. There were absolutely some nail-biting moments, especially in Games 5, 6, and 7. There were some risky moves, switched-up strategies, and fresh approaches. The Cavs coaching staff and team took risks, and they paid off.

Trust the plan. When LeBron James returned to Cleveland in 2014, he publicly committed to bringing an NBA championship to the city. The Cavs came close in 2015, yet the championship went to the Golden State Warriors. LeBron let the fans know that this 2016 championship was for them.

Trust the leadership. Coach Tyronn Lue (I call him Cool Hand Lue), who was elevated into the head coach position mid-season this year, possesses a consistently cool persona, especially in tough times. He never wavers. He never loses his temper. If he questions a referee’s call, he does it in a respectful way. Just five months into his new position, he led the Cavs to a national championship victory. In my opinion, the Coach of the Year Award should go to Lue, because he earned it. MVP LeBron James leads, motivates and inspires his fellow team players to push the limits. In interviews, every player spoke of LeBron’s tremendous leadership, generous spirit and commitment to the team. At the victory rally, LeBron gave accolades to every player for his individual contribution to the team’s success: “I’m nothing without this group behind me. I’m nothing without this coaching staff. I’m nothing without this city.” And let’s remember Cavaliers owner and businessman Dan Gilbert, who has invested millions in downtown Cleveland and in the Cavaliers team. His vision of a championship team began years ago.

Trust the vision. Cavs fans were in shock when longtime Cavs player Andy Varejao was traded mid-season, in exchange for three players: J.R. Smith, Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye. The irony? Varejao joined the Golden State Warriors. Think about how differently this season could have ended without the critical plays of Smith, Jefferson and Frye.

Trust advocates. The city’s celebration began the moment Game 7 ended, with fans crowding downtown Cleveland, welcoming the team home the following day at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and a record estimated 1.3 million people to celebrate at a homecoming parade and rally on June 22. I was part of that 1.3 million crowd and have the sunburn to prove it. Standing for more than four hours and sandwiched in with a sea of other Cavs fans, it was worth every minute. My husband and I were proud to be part of this historic moment in our city. Yes, we have the souvenir T-shirts, caps, pennant, license plate frame, poster, and commemorative newspapers that will never be sold on eBay!

What does this championship mean to the people of Cleveland and to the State of Ohio? Everything. Cleveland is a great city. I love living here. The city has carried many titles – and promotional slogans – over the years: Best Location in the Nation. Comeback City. All-American City. More recent additions: Believeland and a favorite, LeBronland. Whatever you call it, it’s home to the 2016 NBA Champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and to MVP LeBron James. And we know, there’s no place like home.

Thank you, Cleveland Cavaliers, for the best 2015-16 season, and for demonstrating trust in action.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Hamilton

Lin-Manuel Miranda and cast of Hamilton

Lin-Manuel Miranda and cast of Hamilton

Leaders could learn a few things from Broadway’s blockbuster musical, Hamilton. Beyond setting the real-life conflict and duel between Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Treasury Secretary, and Aaron Burr, U.S. Vice President, to hip-hop music, there is a deeper lesson behind the scenes that the Hamilton cast teaches us: Love one another.

While watching the CBS-TV broadcast of the annual Tony Awards on Sunday night, I was struck by how well this Broadway cast performs together, and the lessons they teach us:

Create a caring community. Listening to the various acceptance speeches, it became clear that the Hamilton “family” is a cohesive unit. These people truly care about each other. How are you creating a caring community of support and inclusion in your workplace?

Challenge yourself. As A.W. Tozer said, “Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth.” It took Lin-Manuel Miranda six years to research and write Hamilton. Most of us would have given up trying when the work got too tough. How are you challenging yourself?

Collaborate. The Broadway community is naturally collaborative. Writers. Producers. Directors. Actors. Costume designers. Choreographers. Stage hands. Box office staff. Management. It takes tremendous collective talent to produce a Broadway hit. Miranda had many collaborators in the creation of Hamilton, both on stage and off. How are you collaborating at work?

Celebrate diversity. Hamilton reminds us that an enriched life comes from working alongside people whose differences open up our thinking. Are you surrounding yourself with people who look like you and think like you, or are you searching for opportunities for cultural growth?

Choose love. With the Orlando tragedy occurring the same day as the Tony Awards, a powerful message was shared: Choose love over hate. In Lin-Manuel Miranda’s acceptance speech for best score he said, “And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love… cannot be killed or swept aside…now fill the world with music, love and pride.” Are you choosing to be open minded rather than myopic? To be accepting and non-judgmental? When you are, you create a positive energy that wins.

History reminds us that life’s course can be altered in one split second. This present moment. We cannot recreate what actually happened in the past. We cannot live in the future either. We can only possess this moment, in the now. What are you doing to bring your brilliant, authentic self to your workplace every day?

Finding Common Ground: The Ali-Cosell Story

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Howard Cosell and Muhammad Ali

There are many lessons that we can learn from boxing legend Muhammad Ali (formerly Cassius Clay). Yet the one that stands out most in my mind is the special relationship and bond that he shared with sports commentator Howard Cosell.

The two men couldn’t have been any different, yet, they found common ground in sports, a place where they could meet and simply be their best. They were both performers, top in their fields, and eloquent orators. They first met in 1962 and remained colleagues and friends for more than three decades.

Cosell was a brash, highly intelligent sports journalist from Brooklyn. He had a distinctive reporting style and vocal quality, with a heavily nasal delivery, and careful enunciation of every word, stretching them out towards infinity. He asked tough questions and made bold statements. Ali took them all in stride and was an equal match – and partner – for Cosell. When the two got together, it was magical.

Ali carried the title “The Greatest Fighter of All Time” with grace, style and of course showmanship. He threw barbs as strategically as he did jabs and punches. He used words to taunt his opponents, fire up the media and set the stage for a memorable fight. To watch him in the ring at the height of his career was like nothing else we had ever seen. Fast hands, fast feet and fast language. It was a killer combination.

The Ali-Cosell relationship was based on mutual respect. They may not have agreed with each other on everything inside and outside the ring, yet, they were able to come together around the love of the sport and give us a spectacular show. It was evident the two men cared deeply about and respected each other.

As professionals, we can learn a lot from Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell’s relationship. When you are working with someone whose background, core values, age, ethnicity or personality differs from yours, assume a champion stance. Treat that person with respect and as an equal, and you just may develop a relationship that will stand the test of time.

Baby Boomers Must Be Prepared for a Different Interview Process

n-MATURE-JOB-INTERVIEW-628x314If you are a Baby Boomer looking for a new job, invest the time in updating your mindset about what it takes to land a job in this 21st Century. Much has changed since you last applied for a job. When you kick into interviewing mode, you need to do more than just update your resume because a lot has changed. Here’s a sampling of what to expect:

Hiring Process. A few years ago, a fellow Baby Boomer shared her experience of interviewing with a government agency. After submitting an online application and resume, she was screened by phone with the hiring manager. About a week later, she received a call from the hiring manager who announced, “Congratulations. You got the job.” My friend was shocked that she was hired without a face-to-face interview.

Generational Differences. You may find that the person interviewing and hiring you is 20 or 30 years younger than you. Don’t treat the person like a child. Rather, treat the interviewer like every professional you meet, with respect and as an equal.

Language. Whether on the phone or face-to-face, keep your language current. For instance, “employee orientation” has been replaced with “on-boarding.” News flash: Don’t appear to be hip or cool when a Millennial is doing the interviewing by saying, “Whazzuuppp?” You’ll just look (and sound) stupid.

Questions. If it’s been a long time since you have interviewed for a job, you will notice the types of questions asked have changed. Beyond Old School questions like “Where do you see yourself in five years?,” be prepared for more challenging questions like, “How would you establish your credibility quickly with the team?” Here are a few helpful links to prepare you for the interview: The 100 Top Interview Questions from, the Top 14 Interview Questions from CareerBuilder, and the 10 Most Common Interview Questions from U.S. News & World Report.

Transparency. Headhunters and Human Resources professionals can verify information about you with a simple click of the mouse, reviewing your LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, Twitter account, and conducting a Google Search just using your name. Position yourself appropriately on all of your social media platforms. Everything that hiring professionals need to know about you appears online. If you have been featured in a news article, it’s there. If you spoke at a national conference, it’s there. If you received a community award, it’s there.

Skills. Computer literacy is no longer an option; it is a must-have skill in today’s workplace. Beyond knowing Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint and how to navigate the Internet, understand newer time-saving software or applications. Many companies require employees (for certain positions) to have expertise in social media, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, to name a few.

Professional Image. Your outward appearance is one way to demonstrate your level of professionalism. As you mature, remain current in your wardrobe choices so that you look vibrant, vital and stylish.What are you doing to enhance your professional look? What simple, inexpensive changes are you making that will help you look more current and in style?

Trends. Beyond keeping up to date on industry trends, know what’s happening in the workplace. Thought leader Dan Schawbel, founder of, provides an annual workplace trends prediction as a contributor to Forbes.

When you remain current with a fresh perspective and open mindset, and you also possess an extensive knowledge base, your chance of landing that job increases!