Lessons Learned from Three Entrepreneurs at Crain’s Small Business Forum

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Bright and early on this (reportedly) first day of Spring 2013, I joined around 200 business professionals at a downtown Chicago hotel to attend a breakfast panel discussion, “Entrepreneurs in Action,” hosted by Crain’s Chicago Business, our town’s leading source for business news.  It was cold outside, but the meteorological bluster was tempered inside thanks to the welcome from newly-made business contacts and perhaps that third cup of coffee.Crains

And, before I get too far, sincere thanks to the folks at Comcast Business Class for inviting me to this excellent event.

The stars of the morning, of course, were the three panelists — all successful entrepreneurs, all from widely different industries — who shared some tremendous insight during their introductions and during a roundtable discussion moderated by CCB’s Lisa Leiter, an award-winning print and broadcast journalist.

CrainsHere’s what I learned from a guy who in 1998 launched a staffing company that continues to grab market share, the co-founder of a web site that let’s people and business shop for better electric rates, and the founder of a healthy alternative to pasta. (Note: These aren’t exact quotes, but I maintain I did capture each panelist’s thoughts and perspectives accurately.)

Tom Gimble, President and CEO, LaSalle NetworkMantra: “Work hard, treat people right and have a good idea.”  Thoughts on entrepreneurship: “It was not in my DNA; but there are so many ways to do it right.”  Words of wisdom: “Stop looking for the perfect solution.”  Business value: “Every company needs good people.”

Phil Nevels, COO and Co-Founder, Power2SwitchBusiness philosophy: “People matter, in fact in business, they’re the only thing that matters.”  What entrepreneurs need: “Find partners you can trust; and find investors who believe in your product or service and share your passion.”  On people: “This may be a challenge, but learn how to both hire and fire employees.”  More important than the above: “Family should be the most important thing in your life.”

Terri Rogers, Founder & Chief NoOodlist, The NoOodle CompanyChildhood hero: “Ritchie Rich, the comic book rich kid.”  First success:  “I started in sales and was very successful, but I love to cook and was very creative.” A-Ha moment: “Learned about a healthy Japanese noodle that had been around for centuries.”  Current business principle: “I was born to bring the world noodles.”

And, along with the above, here’s what I took away from the discussion:

The Value of Good People: This was a common thread among the panelists.  Businesses — from entrepreneurial start-ups to conglomerates — all need workers who are passionate and believe in the company’s mission.

The Value of Social Media:  Social media platforms can help cash-strapped start-ups and small companies build awareness for their products and services; but be patient because building a following takes time.

The Value of a Solid Network in Building a Business: Gimbel noted that he likes staff “who are not too proud to beg, who know how to ask for help.” Nevels pointed out the benefits of an effective public relations program. (Note to Mr. Nevels: I have some experience in that area and would be glad to help.) Rogers called on past customers from her job as a VP for a national wholesaler to build her business.

As I continue my search for that next great job in public relations, I’ll keep top of mind what I learned from these entrepreneurs.  Along with their passion for business, they reinforced my belief that there are opportunities for those who believe in themselves.

What have you learned from entrepreneurs?

Triple Play: Two Weeks Into My New Job Search, Job Poll Results, PRSA Chicago Chapter Meeting

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Today, folks you get a three-fer: That’s three blogs in one.  So without further delay:

1. Two Weeks Later: Here’s where things stand two weeks after The PRDude was compelled to embark on another quest (no, I’m not a fan of romance novels; just thought the language was cool and appropriate) to find that next great job in public relations.aprlogo

  • I’m still looking; have some strong leads.
  • I remain committed to the value of effective public relations in modern society, and to my value as an ethical public relations practitioner.
  • The Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) credential continues to help define me in the industry.
  • A surprising number of friends and colleagues have offered support, and many have recognized Edward M. Bury, APR as the author behind The PRDude blog!

Hey, I’m just getting started.  But if you have any leads here in Chicago, please feel free to share.ethics_poster

2.  Job Poll Results: Last time, I asked followers of this blog to take a short poll to offer insight into where the job market was heading. The most recent figures released last week by the U.S. Department of Labor showed more jobs were created than projected in February of 2013, dropping the national unemployment rate to 7.7 percent, the lowest in the Obama Administration.  Here are the results:

  • The job market will continue to improve — 4 votes
  • The job market will get worse — 1 votes
  • The job market will stay the same – 0 votes.

So, the “ayes” have it. (I know: It was only five votes total; but the poll remains open.)  If I had the option to vote, I would say the job market will get better. But like any rational person, it’s got a long way to go.  Stability in the national economy, an end to bi-partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill and the absence of turmoil overseas will help job growth.

3.  PRSA Chicago Chapter Meeting: This morning, I joined colleagues from PRSA Chicago — the fourth largest Chapter in the nation — at a breakfast meeting held to let the membership know how we’re doing financially and what’s planned for 2013.

More than 40 attended, and I was proud to participate with my friend and colleague Joyce Lofstrom, APR, to report that we have four professionals from Chicago who have committed to earning the APR. Chapter leaders reported that we’re doing well financially; the 2012 Midwest District PRSA Conference held here proved very successfully; and, that programming designed for young professionals, mid-level professionals and senior leaders (my category) is diverse, robust and based on research designed to meet member demands.  I’m proud to play a role in this tremendous organization.

To conclude:

What advice do you have for me to land that next great job in public relations?

Do you think the job market will improve, get worse, or stay the same?

What value do you receive from your PRSA Chapter?

Join the conversation.

Okay, Back to Work at Finding the Next Great Public Relations Job

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

A week has passed since I was compelled to take on the challenge of landing a new position where I can employ my strategic public relations knowledge, skills and abilities.  Yes, it will be a challenge, but the hard things in life come with some sacrifice and require hard work.

Already, I’ve reached out to dozens of colleagues and friends, and already I’ve received many referrals and messages of support. That’s tremendously gratifying, and I’m thrilled and honored to have such a tremendous network.  I even picked up a small freelance assignment, and I’m willing to blog for food.  (Just kidding! Have to keep a positive attitude, you know.)

During my last search — the one that launched The PRDude blog and catapulted me into the blogosphere — I learned a great deal about life, myself, public relations, digital communications, the value of networking and lots more.  How long will it take to land that next great public relations job?  Not sure, of course.

But this announcement earlier today from the U.S. Department of Labor certainly is encouraging:chi-ill-jobless-rate-falls-to-87-in-november-2-001

  • The nation added 236,000 jobs in February, many more than economists predicted.
  • The national unemployment rate declined to 7.7 percent, the lowest since December 2008.

That’s a direction the job market needs to go, and even Wall Street continues to respond as the Dow charges ahead and will surely end today on another record day of trading.

What are your thoughts on the employment market?  Tell me in this very short poll:

I’ll share results next week.  Rest assured, I don’t plan on competing with the Gallup people.

If you are new to launching your own search for that next great job in public relations — or another field — I offer these pearls of wisdom:

  • Smile.  Find a reason to smile everyday. If you’re reading this, you’re probably better off than most of the world.
  • Help.  Ask for help, and offer it.  You’ll be surprised at how many people are will to assist you.
  • Meet. Get out of the home office and meet people. Attend networking events. Volunteer.  Join a group.
  • Integrity.  Never compromise your integrity for any reason.  Period.

Okay.  Breathe and exhale.  Take on the next challenge.  I plan to.

Along with Andrew Mason, Another (Almost) Famous Chicagoan Is Seeking New Opportunities

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

It was news that made headlines from Wall Street to Main Streets across the nation. But no where was the news more poignant than here in Chicago.  I’m referring to the news that surfaced last week about the departure of one of the tech world’s brightest stars — Andrew Mason.

As you may know, Mr. Mason was a founder and CEO of Groupon — the online discount deal site that prides itself on luring subscribers to purchase deals via sometimes clever copy. Here’s an example of copy for a Groupon promoting an auto cleaning service: “Cars, like cans of soup, raise suspicions if they’re dirty, coated in salt, or dented from the inside. Cleanse your ride of unwanted attention with this Groupon.” It’s your call on whether this type of message works.  But hey, several months ago, Groupon was growing at an off-the-charts rate.  Click here to see, well, a chart with the details.

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason in better days.

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason in better days.

In keeping with company communications culture, Mr. Mason announced February 28 that he was leaving Groupon to catch up on “family time,” but later corrected himself with the truth: He was fired because of poor stock performance,  lots of other related financial stuff and management mishaps.

I can relate to Mr. Mason’s situation, because I, too, lost my job February 28.  And, I too, am a Chicagoan.  A real one, in fact: Born in Chicago, raised in Chicago and still living in Chicago.  (Mr. Mason was born in Pennsylvania, which is a nice place, but located a few hundred miles east of Chicago.)  I’m not yet as famous as Mr. Mason, but I’m working on it.

This blog was launched September 4, 2009 as a forum to chronicle my search for that next great public relations position.  And, in many posts I shared advice and insight on my job search, while tackling other public relations and related communications topics.  Those early posts were cathartic, helping me grapple with lots of emotions.  I took the moniker of The PRDude as a way to stand out and establish an online brand for my thoughts.  But every post, every word, every idea was written by Edward M. Bury, APR.

Well, The PRDude plans to continue to share his thoughts on public relations and “other stuff” through this blog.  He — okay, Edward M. Bury, APR — hopes others find value from these words.

This is Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude.

This is Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude.

Back to the first person: I am seeking new opportunities and would welcome any leads or advice.  I will use these days, or weeks, or months to continue to grow, learn and give back to the public relations community.  I will blog for food.  (Just kidding.)  I will not compromise my beliefs or integrity; jobs come and go, but as those of us in public relations know all too well, reputations take a lifetime to build and nurture.

Okay: Bring on the next challenge.  I’m ready.


A Farewell to Arms, as We Know It?

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Over the past decade or so, the debate over the need to “do something” over violence resulting from the use of firearms on innocents has ebbed and flowed, capturing the attention of the public and commanding media coverage, then fading.

The horror that followed Columbine in 1999 subsided some weeks later.  Then horror surfaced on the campus at Virginia Tech, at a shopping center in Tucson, at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.  And, of course, there are much smaller scale gun-related horrors that take place daily on big city street corners and in much smaller communities across America.

Each time, we were able to follow the news and absorb developments from these mass gun-driven slayings as they happened, with grim-faced reporterthe s, police officials and commentators providing sobering reports from the scene. Each time, there was extensive debate.  And each time the debate got pushed away after a while to become yesterday’s news. Except of course, for the families and loved ones of the victims: The horror will probably never go away.

But then there was the massacre of 20 small children and six adults December 14  in a school located in the quiet Connecticut community of Newton. It happened days before Christmas of 2012.  There was lots of debate and it hasn’t subsided.

If this is any barometer, my daily read of the Chicago Tribune has included just about daily editorials and letters from readers on the need to address the relative easy availability of guns designed for combat and high magazine clips, the need for gun registration and related topics.  In the March 1 issue, all five letters addressed gun control.

Since Sandy Hook, the need to take tangible efforts to keep guns out of the hands of those bent on domestic slaughter continues to spark conversations in print, online, on the air and hopefully, around the dinner table in homes across America. I think the debate will continue.  I think we’re witnessing the the dawn of new laws and regulations governing what kind of guns Americans can purchase and how they can purchase them.

Clearly, the old ways that we interpret the 2nd Amendment just can’t be accepted anymore.