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.)