Giving Back. Getting More.

Giving Back. Getting More.

I just got home with my brain in high gear from a great week, even though much of it was spent in a small conference room (and in Washington, D.C. traffic just for good measure). I was invited to D.C. to be part of a management seminar for Air Force Public Affairs (AFPA) personnel who are newly appointed as functional leaders at the Wing level.

This was a sharp group of young people—some officers, some non-commissioned officers and a few civilians. For the most part, these folks are just moving into their first management job where they can no longer be ‘only’ a broadcaster, journalist, photographer or whatever else they were before. Now their jobs are about pulling the big picture together to tell the story and support their commanders’ priorities.

I sat through some great sessions led by other speakers, including an excellent one on social media by my friend Maja Stevanovich (@majastevanovich), who is a civilian employee of AFPA. My presentation was on how everything we do as communicators is about reputation management (real management; not hiding bad links).

I certainly hope I gave them what they needed. The questions people asked made me think I, at least, had everyone thinking. This exercise definitely made ME think and reminded me of the one thing I really miss—working with a team and helping them grow. They energized me.

After the seminar, I managed to not get lost on D.C. roads and made it to the Pentagon for a live webinar with my friend, Brigadier General Les Kodlick, Director, Air Force Public Affairs (@USAFPABoss). We spent an hour talking with young leaders about how to give effective advice and counsel to senior leaders. Getting ready for that session really made me dig back in the memory banks to what it was like when I didn’t have gray hair. More importantly, it made me re-evaluate what still works, what doesn’t and why—things we are all guilty of taking for granted.

During the webinar, there were more excellent questions. When Les and I wrapped it up, at 60 minutes on the nose, we both felt energized and motivated, and hoped that the audience came away with new ideas and the same kind of energy.

Last week reminded me of how much I enjoyed teaching at Hill and Knowlton “colleges” over the years (for those who may not know, one of my most recent full-time positions was as general manager of Hill and Knowlton for San Francisco/Northern California and deputy director of its global technology practice).

Anyway, twice a year, we’d bring together the next generation of leaders for a week of training and team building. I always made time to get there and present to at least one session, no matter what was going on at my office or with clients. I thought it was critical, both for the future of the firm and because of the synergy created by the group dynamics. It made us all better.

The preparation for those college sessions, like for last week, were also good times to teach myself something new and think through old practices. To me, this is always valuable. When you’re in the middle of the work grind, there isn’t much time for reflection or continuing education.

So, I went to this meeting to give something back and, as usual for me, I came away with more than I gave. Do you find the time to give back? Do you usually get more than you give? Let me know…

(Disclaimer: This is my personal blog and the opinions expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Air Force Public Affairs. The Air Force does not pay me for my time, but they do reimburse me for travel expenses.)


  • First, congrats on joining the blogging world, mate – been a long time coming, and look forward to seeing more from you.

    It’s always great to get “inside” someone you know, and to see what makes them tick, and I can imagine how great a teacher you’d be. Hopefully you’ll be sharing more examples like this as well as the smarts I’ve come to expect from you.

    Just one tip on the blog, sir – do you have the option for a sidebar, where you can have easy subscription options? Happy blogging!

    *UPDATE* Interesting – just saw that on the main index of the blog, you have a sidebar with the subscription options, just not on the single post page. Just a heads up, in case it’s in the settings! 🙂

    September 20, 2011 at 5:15 pm
    • Rick Rice

      Thanks for the note and the tip. I’ll go hunting for the setting. I appreciate all of your encouragement and support – and tolerating my comments!

      September 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm
  • Rick,

    What a lovely nudge to those of us who could certainly do more to give back to our communities and our country. Thanks for sharing – very inspirational! Jenifer Olson

    September 20, 2011 at 7:04 pm
    • Rick Rice

      Jenifer, thanks. I just really enjoy the exchange. These people have big jobs and challenges and I hope I helped. I just know that it pushed me to get this site done and published. Thank you for all your help in getting this going.

      September 20, 2011 at 7:53 pm
  • David Armanasco

    Your humility is itself inspiring. A good reminder regarding the joy of giving and listening. You’ve always been a great teacher!
    I look forward to future lessons!
    Best wishes,

    September 20, 2011 at 7:26 pm
    • Rick Rice

      Thank you, David. Not like you need lessons from me, but I always enjoy our time together. We need another shared client – it has been too long. And, I’m looking forward to spending time with you in D.C. in November doing more of this. I think you’ll get as energized from spending time with the people in AFPA as I do. I know Les is looking forward to you being there.

      September 20, 2011 at 7:56 pm
  • Great post, Rick. Having only known you a short period of time in another online group, it’s good to read what motivates you and get an inside look at what you do.

    My company works with several non-profits as many of our executives sit on their boards. It’s enjoying when I get pulled into meetings to consult with them on their communication strategies (many don’t have one) and how to use various online and social media tools. With a growing and active family I don’t have time to get too involved after hours so this is a great way for me to give back. No how much free advice and direction I give to these non-profits, I’m rewarded every time I see their communications go out with pictures and stories of the lives they are changing. They are not my stories but I helped give them the vehicles to get their stories out so they can find more support and continue to change lives.

    You just got a new subscriber.

    September 21, 2011 at 7:37 am
    • Rick Rice

      Thanks, Chris.

      I’m lucky enough to have some time to ‘give away’ now, but I remember those days of being too busy. It is great that you have that outlet. I used to be on the board for our local Make-A-Wish Foundation and, like you, it always gave me a lift to see those stories told well and know that it was helping make more wishes come true.

      I think giving back, even just a little, is good for all of us. At least it works for me.

      Glad you liked the post. We have a few glitches to work out on the site, but more to come. Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:50 am
  • Anonymous

    This was great to read, especially since I work for the general and wasn’t able to attend the Webinar! I’m glad to hear it went well. Great post all around.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm
    • Rick Rice

      Thanks for checking out the blog. I’ve been told the Webinar is available for replay. The second half hour when the questions were asked is my favorite part but there were some good stories shared by the Boss in the earlier part. If you have time to check it out, please come back and tell people what you think. (Blame what you don’t like on me, not the General.)

      I appreciate the comment and the opportunity to be part of it.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:00 pm
  • You know – it’s cliche to say that the best part of teaching is ‘seeing the light go on for someone else’ so I’ll say that is the second best part of teaching. The *best* part of teaching is the amount of new information that you, the teacher, come away with. I think I learned more teaching than I ever did as a student. Mostly, because the questions that “students” (whether college, corporate, or even conference attendees) come up with take your thoughts in new directions.

    It almost seems unfair sometimes how much more I got out of it than than I could ever give back.

    It’s nice to know that you’re passing on some of that wisdom and those insights to tomorrow’s leaders Rick. Love just knowing that. Also love the heads up on Maja. I’m following her now! 🙂

    September 22, 2011 at 8:38 pm
    • Rick Rice


      That’s a new quote to me. I love it and will probably ‘borrow’ it in the future if you don’t mind.

      I enjoy working with clients. I like solving problems. But what I really miss and enjoy is the mentoring, teaching and learning that comes with leading a team. Maja is a great example. I think I’ve helped her but I know she’s taught me a great deal in our discussions.

      I agree. It does almost seem unfair how much more we get than we think we give but that just keeps me working at sharing what I’ve learned.

      Thank you for the insights.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:01 pm
  • Gloria Wilson

    It was a pleasure meeting you at the seminar, love your blog– you now have another subscriber. I appreciate the time, and more importantly the insight, you gave us. I learned alot and have even given Twitter a try thanks to some of the class discussions.

    November 1, 2011 at 1:42 pm
    • It was great meeting you too. I’m glad it was helpful.

      I hope that everything is going well in the job.

      November 1, 2011 at 2:12 pm