Thursday, October 29, 2009

Great Speakers/Great Messages

One of the great things about being involved with a University is that I get a chance to hear and meet wonderful speakers. Last week, I heard the founder of the Discovery Channel, John Hendricks, give a great lecture on entrepreneurship. John spoke on the need for entrepreneurs to be passionate and nearly obsessive about their venture to be successful. He also said that we should pay attention to our daydreams. For John, one of his daydreams was a tv channel for documentaries, which in essence was the elevator pitch for what would become the Discovery Channel. He also talked about the Planet Earth series and their upcoming big-event series, Curiosity, where they will tackle 60 big questions.

Last night, I heard James Olson, the VP of Corporate Communications at US Airways (and a Syracuse University graduate) speak about the Miracle on the Hudson. He took us back to last January, when he was sitting at his desk and got a call and needed to comment on the spot to the fact that one of their airplanes was floating in the Hudson River. He told a packed audience at the Newhouse School of Public Communications that planning and drilling is indispensible to prepare for a crisis, but that you also have to be flexible enough to make changes on the fly when those changes are called for. But he also reminded all in attendance that transparency is required, because whether we like it or not, in this day of 24/7-always-on-all-the-time media, even private letters to customers will be made public, so we might as well think about that at the outset. US Airways still has on their website, a spot where you can see lots of information about the incident, including the letter that was sent to the passengers of 1549 just days after the accident.

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