Announcing the 360IT Partners Professional Learning Series for Hampton Roads Small Businesses

September 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Bits and Tips, Management Coaching 

Don’t miss a great opportunity for networking and learning the latest IT trends and challenges from the best of  local experts in Hampton Roads. We hope you will join us for the first session which is designed for small business to be prepared for any type of disruption or disaster in  business operations. Well known moderator Cathy Lewis will lead the panelists through an excellent dialogue and your questions as well! See the flyer for more details:

Final 360IT Partners Learning Series flyer

The 10th Anniversary of my 1st Father’s Day by Michael Camden

July 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Bits and Tips 

Every June, we celebrate Father’s day. It is an opportunity to honor our dads.  Some people may call it a Hallmark holiday that has evolved into an attempt to cash in on our love and devotion of our fathers. Maybe it is, but I’m a lucky dad, so bring on the celebration.

According to Wikipedia, Father’s Day was not created by Hallmark. Instead, it was founded in Spokane, Washington at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd. Its first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there.  After hearing a sermon about Mother’s Day in 1909, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them.  Although she initially suggested June 5, her father’s birthday, the pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father’s_Day)

This June is the 10th anniversary of my first father’s day; the first one playing the role of father rather than son. Thanks to my very first father’s day gift 10 years ago, my daughter honors me 365 days a year. That gift was something we have since come to call “Daddy Tree”.  In fact, every one like it is now called a daddy tree. These trees have not always been indigenous to the Hampton Roads region. Thankfully someone realized there was a market for them this far north.

I will never forget my first Father’s day. Ten years ago, I returned home from a trip on Father’s day for a photo opportunity with my little girl in front of our daddy tree, a 2 foot tall palm tree in our front yard by the mailbox. It was so cool! Ironically, I had just returned from sunny Florida, where no one would think twice about daddy trees. A few years later, on our first family trip to Disney, I’ll never forget her reaction to the trees in Orlando. Daddy trees were everywhere and my daughter was in heaven. We had not even seen the Magic Kingdom yet.  But not in our yard, there is only the one. Today, it towers over our driveway and stretches to the power lines.  It has grown taller from year to year, just as my little buddy has matured and blossomed.

The tree has served as a symbol of our family’s love and of our recognition of father’s day. It is a lasting and living memory reminding me, daily, of the joy and blessings of fatherhood.  Every year, we return to the foot of the daddy tree for another photo op; my daughter and the tree – each taller, and me – another year older with a little less hair.

I would not have anything to celebrate or to write about if it were not for my father (and mother), my loving wife, and of course my little girl. Thank you, sweet Caroline, for 10 awesome years. Happy father’s day dad and to every dad out there. Go spend some time making lasting memories with your kids. Perhaps you can plant your own daddy tree.

Michael Camden, MBA (father, husband, and son) is the Enrollment Coordinator for the Hampton Roads site of Troy University. He may be reached at 757-451-8203 or michael.camden@troy.edu.

Virginia Communities: Meet the Virginia Advisory Council on Military Education by Michael Camden, MBA

June 14, 2013 by · Comments Off on Virginia Communities: Meet the Virginia Advisory Council on Military Education by Michael Camden, MBA
Filed under: Bits and Tips, Marketing Communications 

Although the Virginia Advisory Council on Military Education (VAACME) is not new, it has become a viable force within the military voluntary education community. “We’re not splitting atoms,” says Michael Midura, President of VAACME, “But we are being recognized as an organization that cares about the education, training, and professional development of our military.” VAACME is a non-profit 501c3 charitable organization, whose mission is to understand the educational services provided by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Veteran’s Services; to become aware of the educational support required by transitioning service members and their families; to provide feedback to the Commonwealth of Virginia, of the service- specific educational support and services required by the military members and their families; to understand the educational and employment services provided by the Department of Veterans Affair Veteran’s Education and Training Service; and to share best-practices and lessons learned between education counselors and education providers. In short, VAACME serves, supports, and educates military personnel and their families throughout the Commonwealth. One example of that support can be witnessed by the $70,000 in scholarships granted over the past 7 years.

Founded in 2007, under the guidance and encouragement of Dr. Carol Berry, former Southeast Regional Director of Navy College and current Director of Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education (DANTES), VAACME prepared for the 7th Annual Training Symposium: Renewing, Reeducating, Reinventing and Beyond! The event was held March 26-28 at the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel, was a training opportunity on military related educational initiatives and programs, as well as updates on education policies from the Department of Defense (DoD). Tuition Assistance (TA) programs for active duty and Post 9-11 GI Bill processes are regular topics each year. Due to sequestration and recent announcements of discontinued funding of Marine and Army TA programs, this was a hot topic at the symposium. In an ever changing economy and tumultuous job market, the choice of this year’s key note speaker, Mr. Ismael Ortiz, former Deputy Assistant Secretary, Veteran’s Employment and Training Service, Department of Labor, recognized the need for greater support and understanding of a transitioning military to civilian work force.  Also, on the agenda, was the Honorable Terrie L. Suit, Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security for the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as Elizabeth Creamer, Director of Education and Workforce Development, Virginia Secretary of Education Office. The complete agenda and more information about the organization may be found at www.vaacme.org.

Fast becoming a signature event of the annual symposium was the 3rd annual Virginia Wounded Warrior Program (VWWP) charity golf tournament on Tuesday, March 26 at 8am. Wounded Warriors were invited to golf for free as guests at the event. For the first time, there was a $10k hole-in-one contest courtesy of First Command Financial, a golf pro from National University’s Golf Academy out of California, and PGA Golfer, author, and First Colonial graduate Carl Paulson. In addition, the tournament welcomed Mrs. Virginia International, Amber Wandtke, who is active duty Navy, and officials from the Virginia Department of Veterans Services in Richmond and locally from the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program’s 5th District in Norfolk. Immediately following the tournament at Aeropines Golf Club at NAS Oceana, there was a symbolic check presentation to these officials. In the past two years, VAACME has raised approximately $9,000 for the VWWP.

Another first this year is the Military Transition Job Fair and Education Expo, which was hosted in partnership with the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, held on Tuesday, March 26, also was at the Hilton, from 5pm to 9pm. The event was dedicated to provide opportunities for companies to target their recruitment efforts towards enthusiastic candidates with experience and strong work ethics, who now or in the future will be exiting the Armed Forces.  All armed forces personnel, DoD civilians, retirees, and their families were welcomed at no cost to attend. With a long list of companies who participated, there was much buzz surrounding the services provided by Hero 2 Hired (H2H) and DMV to go. The Transition Fair further illustrates VAACME’s and the Chamber’s commitment to the educational and career support of our military women and men.

The largest in the country, VAACME is recognized as the benchmark for other ACMEs. Last October, First Lady Maureen McDonnell presented VAACME with the First Lady’s Seal of Approval for their outstanding accomplishments in providing educational opportunities to the Commonwealth’s service members and their families. Supporting organizations such as the Freedom Support Center at Fort Monroe and the First Lady’s Serving our Service Member Families network and the Governor’s Virginia Values Veterans (V3) initiative and Virginia Military Advisory Committee, VAACME is comprised of Educators, counselors, education officers, and military personnel, both active and retired, from Virginia and beyond. Safeguarding the best interests of the academic goals and career growth of our military community, who protect our freedoms, is what they do. They are passionate educators with a strong desire to give back to those who make significant sacrifices for the citizens of Virginia and the United States.

Michael Camden, Enrollment Coordinator for Troy University’s Hampton Roads Site, may be reached at 757-451-8203 or michael.camden@troy.edu. In addition to his service on the VAACME Symposium Planning Committee and as the VWWP Golf Tournament Director, Michael is a member of the Virginia Beach division board of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.

“I’m Good.”

September 24, 2012 by · Comments Off on “I’m Good.”
Filed under: Bits and Tips 

It must be just too much effort to respond to an offer for assistance or even to graciously reject a piece of cake at events these days with any comment other than “I’m good”.  How often do you hear a coworker say “no, thank you” with “I’m good”.  I thought good meant better than ok and a whole lot better than bad. In this context, good means I am fine without whatever it is someone is offering.

Today’s use of bland words such as “good” has branded a new attitude about how we feel. Such bland language makes it difficult to figure out what our customers or potential customers really think about our products and services. No wonder. We have done very little in marketing communications to inspire how a product or service might feel, taste, or make our lives better.

Years ago in one of those communications classes I learned how important it is to be positive in all language, from avoiding the double negative to avoiding anything negative at all in communications. In this case, “I’m good” meets the mark by meaning I am good without whatever it is you want of me. Some might say it is even polite.

So let’s test it. Wouldn’t you like to win the lottery today? “I’m good.”  ” Would you to play golf Thursday? ‘I’m good.”

What we have said in our response is basically lame.

Bland and lame. Where do we go from here? If we are good, why not be incredible or instead of being on top of our game, being on top of the puffiest silver-lined cloud or the highest cupola in the palace? Yes, I am exaggerating, but the point is that in an effort to be smart phone texting concise, we often provide useless, vague copy.

The worst part of “I’m good” is that it doesn’t exactly build relationships. Next time a client asks me if I would like coffee, I think I will respond with “No thank you, I don’t need to be any more alert for our meeting than I am” or “we might create a campaign that sells more product than you can produce” or “No thanks, I forgot to bring my good luck cup when I tell you my idea.”

Do you have one of those phrases which drives you crazy? Please share!

What’s So Super About That? By Michael Camden, Business Development, Managing Communications Consulting

February 5, 2012 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Bits and Tips, Marketing Communications 

The Super Bowl (Wait, can I say that? I mean, legally?) looms over us like the  impending hurricane you know is coming, but all you care about are the great parties. In the case of the big game, we’re all anxiously salivating for the Doritos commercials, especially that guy and his clandestine dog from Virginia Beach. So, you think this is an article about the NFL championship game. But, not so fast. Why is the game so super? I mean, unless you are a Giants or Patriots fan.

What determines superiority? Super Man bends steel and much more. My child is rated “superior student” when she cooperates and participates in school. There are super committees and super pacs, but this is not political satire either. There are super novas (also a great song in the 90s), and as long as we’re referencing music, what is a Supertramp anyway? There are superstitions and superlatives. Some things are even supercalifragilistic (or something like that). We have celebrities that we crown as super stars. Some of those stars fall from the sky as they fall from grace. There are super computers and super conductors, but I studied English and business, so what do I know about I.T.? There are super highways, which really make the regular highways feel inferior. Some people are super sensitive, but not me. Really, I’m not!

In the 70s we had supermarkets, but for some reason that wasn’t super enough, so we created super supermarkets. They know who they are. I remember when McDonald’s advertised a meal for under a buck. Yes sir. You got a burger, fries, and a drink and change back (a penny probably). Now to get that same meal, you have to super size it. That movie already hit Redbox long ago. Oh and lest I forget super models like the babes on Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue. What makes them super? Even the Dove soap models are attractive, but super?

In my youth, you may have overheard me shout “super-decent” when Jaws devoured an unsuspecting victim. When a normal person does something heroic, they often display superhuman strength. It all sounds so super natural. Which makes me wonder, what the heck is superfly?

Super is defined by Webster’s as excellent, very great, and excessive. Ah excessive. Now we’re onto something. Did I say that this is not a story about the super bowl? Now it is, because I just googled “super”. The first 22 pages of links were all related to the super bowl. I gave up at page 23. That is what I call super-excessive.

Here’s a super idea. Let’s move the big game to Saturday or earlier on Sunday so that we can all get some super rest before returning to super reality on Monday.

Gotta run. I’m late for super; I mean supper.

“Shut-up! No way?! I can’t believe it!”

February 8, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Bits and Tips, Marketing Communications 

By Alisa Crider, PR Associate, Managing Communications

Wow! How could a word that used to mean “to stop talking” now mean “Please – tell more!” It’s easy  to blame the obvious – the media. Those who have seen the popular American teen comedy film, Mean Girls, are familiar with “the plastics,” the A-list girl clique who are the queen bees of their high school. You might recall Regina (Rachel McAdams) asking Cady (Lindsay Lohan) who had just moved from Africa, “So you’ve actually never been to a real school before? Shut up! Shut up!” Cady responds back in confusion, “I didn’t say anything.” Although this may be a comical exaggeration, this scene is not too far off from today’s high school setting.

 Stacy London the fashion expert on What Not to Wear says “Shut-up” all the time in a similar manner. Her use of the word seems to define shock or serve as a substitute to the phrase “Oh my gosh!” My favorite reference however, is in the 2011 Golden Globe winner for Best Comedy, “The Kids are Alright.” Paul (VB native, Mark Ruffalo) plays the birth father and has a tendency to sub “Shut the front door” for a more inappropriate phrase.

 On a different note, “Shut Up” is also a song by the American hip hop band The Black Eyed Peas. The 2003 single is on their album Elephunk. It’s basically the battle of the sexes put into song with the chorus consisting of the lines “shut up, just shut up shut up”. In this case, the word is used repeatedly to get a point across. Funny how a word that used to be frowned upon, is now being sung by 12-year-olds on a daily basis.

So when did the connotation of this word shift and become so casual and “fetch”? It’s hard to point fingers at an individual who coined this term; however, I think it is easy to say it was born out of the millennial generation – people born between 1982 and 2000, ages 10 to 28.

 There are several characteristics of millennials that contribute to this assumption. First of all, they are the first generation to grow up surrounded by digital media. It’s hard to find a person in this age group who doesn’t own an Ipod or have a Facebook account. In fact, many prefer chatting online to talking on the phone. IM-ing (Instant Message) is the preferred communication tool and is where people show off their knowledge of acronyms, like “DEGT”: “don’t even go there,” or “IDTS”: “I don’t think so.” Millennials are technology savvy because they have no real memory of life without computers, cell phones, or digital music.

 Typical Millennial tends to be extremely competitive, confident and optimistic. This contradicts the fact that Millennials also appear to be the most stressed-out generation in history. They seem to require constant encouragement to thrive and are not too humble to make this known. Most are social bumble bees and crave attention and recognition. This explains why most teens strive for the A-list and don’t typically fall short. They devour the popular lingo that echoes through the high school halls because everyone knows “Shut-up!” is much sassier than “No way!”

There is a time and a place for everything, and the workplace is not somewhere the word “shut-up” should be used under any context. Some people may feel it depends on the work environment of the business where they are employed. I personally would not use that language with my boss, but I see other people do. Even if the word is not used in its original context, and is instead used by its millennial definition, I still find it unnecessary and inappropriate. It is slang and has no effective use in the workplace.

  “Shut-up” is now a word with multiple meanings, and it may take a while for all the generations to understand its new meaning.

 Can you believe an entire blog was devoted to such a trivial subject?…Shut-up!

MCC Pro: What does ASAP mean? Are we communicating it effectively to our employees?

June 27, 2010 by · 50 Comments
Filed under: Bits and Tips 

by Alisa Crider, PR Associate

ASAP – what does it really mean? According to Dilbert’s comic strip it means “A Stupid Acting Person,” but if you ask the Dr. Seuss’ character Horton, from Horton Hears a Who, it “probably” means “act swiftly, awesome pachyderm.” However, “As Soon As Practical”, “After September, April Possibly” and “As Slow As Possible” are some playful, yet slang, pop culture meanings of the acronym. To the rock and roll fans it is the abbreviation for “Adrian Smith and Project,” a progressive rock band created by guitarist and vocalist Adrian Smith of the English band Iron Maiden. Although that “rocks” for some, I think it’s OK to assume that most people in the business world think the acronym ASAP means “As Soon As Possible.”

Believe it or not, there are hundreds of non-slang definitions for ASAP from various categories including: Information Technology (IT), Military & Government, Science & Medicine, Organizations, Schools, etc., and Business & Finance. For example, to the Navy it means survival – “Advanced Survivability Assessment Program”, which is a naval ship design, but to the Army it means trouble – “Army Substance Abuse Program. It’s the Automated Standard Application for Payment to the US Treasury Department and Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel to NASA. In the UK, it’s the “Association of Social Alarms Providers” and in Slovakia it means “Aeronautical Services and Procedures”.

Most commonly in our business communications, the acronym is used to express the importance of some act. It has higher priority than anything else and will be done in a short period of time. If this act is not done, it typically results in bad consequences that every employee wants to avoid if they like their job.

Besides working for Managing Communications Consulting, I also work at a law firm and as one should know, you can’t mess with the law! I was given an assignment that had to be done ASAP. I had not been working there long and had never been given an assignment with such apparent urgency. A check needed to be signed by the lawyer who wasn’t in the office. After obtaining his signature at a restaurant nearby, I then had a 30-minute drive to the court house to make the crucial deadline. If I drove really fast and didn’t catch any lights, I may have made it to my scheduled dentist appointment. Well, I had to reschedule. It’s funny how priorities can change when you are told something has to be done ASAP. It’s an acronym that brings stress and anxiety to me yet at the same time its exuberating because you know you have an important challenge ahead.

I think ASAP should be used sparingly. When bosses overuse the acronym it tends to lose its urgency. A boss that uses the term sparingly is more likely to get the desired result in a timely fashion.

Anyway, I seem to like the other definitions better. Remember… Always Say A Prayer…or is it Always Stop and Pray?