Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Profile in Excellence: From Pizza to Politics

Dennis Tran - worlds fastest pizza maker at 55 seconds.

I was sick recently and found myself watching a show on the food network that was taking a look inside the Domino's “30 minutes or less” company heritage.  Apparently, they have these annual competitions where fast pizza making employees from all over the world compete for the title as “World’s Fastest Pizza Maker.”  I found myself strangely moved by Mr. Tran’s victory, but not just because I love both efficiency and pizza.  It was the very real victory he enjoyed.  People rushed to embrace him and it looked like he might have even shed a tear.

In a world where you are either keeping up with the Jones’s or trying to justify your worldview, as a global melt down seems to be taking hold, it is refreshing to see humans just celebrating excellence… In whatever it is they do.

In the teaching of my faith, we are told to do everything we do as if we are doing it in service of Christ.  There are a lot of theological reasons for that, but those aren’t necessary for the point to be made.  We should all strive to do everything with excellence.  And, when someone displays excellence, we should be quick to celebrate with him or her (not downplay their actions as less than another’s because it doesn’t seem “important” or because later activities undid their work).

I find it exhilarating to watch my fellow humans celebrate accomplishment, even if I don’t totally “get” what they are accomplishing.  It is the shear impossibility of the moment and the raw human emotion that displays which draws me in. It is addictive and I find myself seeking it out.

We watch a lot go on in public policy everyday that we don’t stop and acknowledge as moments of excellence.  I, on the other hand, sit in awe.  One of my greatest blessings is the ability to be right there, in that moment, and milk it for every drop of victory there is.  It is what gets me by.  And, right now, I am watching a show of excellence unfold in the state of Wisconsin.

Governor Scott Walker and the Republicans in their State Senate and Assembly are bravely taking a stand.  It moves me to watch as various members of the body stand in front of a roaring angry mob with nothing but a microphone and a little earpiece to connect them to the national news interviews while they absolutely NAIL their interviews.  It moves me to see a brand new Governor paraded through a series of interviews and press conferences and not be shaken from his resolve that this must be done for the future of the state he loves.  He is calm, he is articulate, and dare I say… he’s more presidential than our own President.  Governor Walker nails the interviews.  Everytime.  And THAT is excellence.

Next year, someone else may beat Dennis Tran’s world pizza making record.  But, he deserves the credit for doing whatever it is you do with excellence and commitment.

Similarly, the forces that gain their strength from a well-funded Democratic party through union dues may someday undo what is being fought so valiantly for in Wisconsin.  But, history will forever reserve a spot for the memory of the excellence being exhibited there right now by Governor Walker, Senate Leader Scott Fitzgerald, Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, and a whole host of other Republican legislators who have risen to challenge and are truly working with excellence.

*Standing Ovation*

Update: Apparently, Tran's segment on Food Network (while moving) is out of date.  Pali Grewal is the 2010 World’s Fastest Pizza Maker at 39.1 seconds.  :)

Originally published at PunditLeague.us  
Follow this author on Twitter @PamelaGorman or Facebook.com/PamelaGormanPage

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Social Media for Politicians? Heck, Ya!

What a difference five years can make…
I saw a news story recently here in Arizona where the use of social media by lawmakers was lauded as a smart tool for elected officials to keep the public informed. The reporter even admitted his first stop in covering the work at the state legislature is the Facebook and Twitter accounts of local lawmakers. You can watch it here.
I agree, and am an active user of social media (as I was when I served in the Arizona Legislature, myself). But, I can’t help laughing at how long it took the mainstream press to catch on to this. I mean, they are in the information business and all.
Way back in the dark ages (2006) I entered the social media venue as a state lawmaker. But, rather than embrace the effort and celebrate my extra time spent creating easy access for my constituents to the work I was doing at zero cost to the taxpayers, I was ridiculed in the local press. These “keepers of the public interest” journalist types wrote about how silly it was that some of us younger politicos were somehow tainting the office by engaging in social media forays.
Luckily, I was given a heads up of the story to break the following morning, which gave me time to go into my brand spanking new Myspace (remember Myspace?) page and turn it into a promotional page for my work. I remember thinking it was very nice that the state’s largest newspaper (remember newspapers?) was going to direct their readership to my own little corner of the social media universe and decided to seize the day, rather than hustle and beg them to kill the story.
There is a constant push and pull in this struggle to control the information flow, and that isn’t new. But, the new embrace of social media by political figures and journalists alike is a good thing. As Arizona Speaker, Kirk Adams, says in his interview regarding his new nickname “Tweetmaster”, “It is like having a printing press in your pocket.”For voters hungry for unfiltered information about the policies that will affect them, social media is offering something no traditional media form has been able to in history… real time, live, direct access to their policy makers.
One doesn’t have to struggle, though, to see the downside of this. Let’s face it, some politicians are quick on their feet and have great judgment in regards to messaging and when it makes sense (and when it doesn’t). For those that don’t, the expectation that they get out there and join the information revolution is not going away. So, to those that honestly look at their abilities and time constraints and think, “Holy smokes. I can’t do this. It is a disaster in the making…” I’d suggest finding someone who can and will help you put your best foot forward with social media very quickly. Bright ideas and IT expertise will only take you so far and a career can crash with one improper post by a politician… Which is why many have moved so slowly to embrace the technology and some legislatures have really tried to clamp down on the activity.
The good news is that professionals with real political savvy are springing up all over to help. And, like choosing any professional for an important job that could ultimately make or break your business, you need to hire someone with a proven track record.
Keep in mind, though, that anyone who tells you they are a social media expert may be that, but still have no clue how politics, policy, or news cycles work. I am happy to make specific recommendations to anyone who contacts me, but generally, I’d suggest you get someone who has really “been there” in the trenches professionally long enough to do the job right the first time.
I wonder where we will be five years from now, if this is how far we’ve come since 2006? Star wars-like holographic images of speeches? *Shudders*
Originally posted on PunditLeague.us.  Follow the author on Twitter @PamelaGorman