Archive for March, 2015

Make new friends, but keep the old

A few weeks ago, on Scouting Ministries Sunday at my church, one of the Girl Scouts sang this song:

Make new friends, but keep the old
One is silver and the other gold.

A circle is round, it has no end
That’s how long I want to be your friend.

Here is my hand, and here is the other
Let’s put them together and we have each other.

This came to mind as I reflect back on my recent travels for work as well as my trip taking the youth group to Young Christians Weekend in Branson, at Silver Dollar City.   Plus, I’m seeing friends from work leave,  some due to downsizing and others due to retirement or new jobs.

It’s hard to say goodbye to anyone but it’s nice to be reunited with old friends.  I am also reminded that my old friends were once new friends.  During our trip to Sacramento, Kim made a comment at dinner on Wednesday evening that “We’re family and this is our dining room table.”  While I agree completely with her that the group is all very close to one another, I realize that some of those in the group are folks that I’d never met until January.

I was really pleased to see Pauline and Nikhil at NAA mediaXchange in Nashville but sad to think of all those that were there in years past but no longer joining in the fun.  Still, new members of the Media Research industry are arriving.  The newest members of our McClatchy research team are Isaac in KC, Kate in Sacramento and Galen in Columbia, South Carolina.  I just met Kate on Thursday and she’s already contributing to the team.  I’ve only spoken to Galen once but he seems really sharp.  Meanwhile, Isaac has been an amazing gift; looking back to the past 3 months, I don’t know how I could’ve managed to do everything without him there day-in, day-out taking care of so much of the ongoing research support.

On my youth trip, one of the young men going with us is one that was part of our group a few years ago and is being reunited with us for this weekend.  It was nice to see him on Sunday morning yet ironic too.  Back when we went on a Mission Trip to Jefferson City, I commented that Nickolai reminded me of my nephew Kenny and when we were reunited on Sunday morning at church, it happened to be Kenny’s birthday.

And then there’s all of my friends/classmates from years ago; I keep up (primarily through Facebook) with people that I knew at NKC High School, Missouri State, and Ohio State.

So, in closing, let me repeat:

Make new friends, but keep the old
One is silver and the other gold.

Of course, my closest friend is my bride and just the sound of her voice makes me smile and know that all is well in the world.


Are you creating a “Toxic Charity” or teaching a community to “fish and thrive” after you’re gone?

My friend Jonathan has had an entire series of blogs (starting with this one) about this book (which we’ll be discussing on Sat., April 11 at 10am at Avondale United Methodist Church) but I’ve focused on just one part of the book.

For me, the first part of the book felt like I was being lectured but around page 100, the book turned and started actually providing helpful advice. Specifically …

Page 108

Feed a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he’ll east for a lifetime …

But what happens when the fish disappear for the lake due to pollution or overfishing?

Teaching a man to fish is an individual matter; but gaining control of the lake is a community issue.

Page 109

If we are to teach people to both fish and thrive, we must figure out how to make use of the lake’s potential.

Pages 117-119

Community building

  1. Who are the producers?
  2. Where is the energy?
  3. What’s the “win” and is it achievable?
  4. Who are the principal investors?
  5. What’s the organizing mechanism?

Community economic development

  1. What are the local assets of our clients?
  2. What are the local assets of this place?
  3. What’s happening in the local, national and international markets?
  4. How are entrepreneurs supported?

So, where do we go from here?  I’m eager to hear the conversation in April about how we plan to implement this within our church and community but I’d also be interested to hear ideas about how this is implemented elsewhere.

Now it’s your turn …

Travelin’ Man

In most years, I might have one business trip in my Marketing Research role at The Kansas City Star.

However, last summer, we created the McClatchy Consumer Data Center (MCDC) which resulted in trips to Wichita and Lexington. The concept of MCDC came out of epathetic interviews with advertisers last summer as part of Design Thinking with the Stanford Design School.

Well, earlier this year, I learned that I’d been selected to participate in the next round of Design Thinking training and, furthermore, I would be one of 11 people serving as Smokejumpers, which essentially means that I’m coaching others on Design Thinking and figuring out how to fan the flames of creativity. I had the pleasure of working with a team of 4 in January and at the end of the week, they went on their way and I was given 2 new teams to work with. A note of clarification though … these were new only in my participation as a Smokejumper as both groups already existed. MEND University was spreading great ideas throughout McClatchy and I’m simply encouraging them to test those ideas with customers. The other team is MCDC and, as mentioned previously, I’m actually a member of the team. For MCDC, we’ve been striving to “Nail It Before We Scale It” as we are currently providing MCDC and Database Analysis projects in 8 markets.

This past week, I returned to Sacramento for another round of training as a Smokejumper.

Before I went to Sacramento, I made a stop in Nashville for the NAA mediaXchange and got to see several friends and colleagues, including fellow researchers Pauline (Tampa / St. Pete, Florida) and Nikhil (Columbus, Ohio … go Buckeyes!) as well as vendors from Scarborough, Second Street, AdMall, Nielsen, Media Monitors, Mather Economics and RAM. Sunday featured the Audience Symposium while the highlights for Monday were sessions about Millennials and a session on how to Market to People Not Like Me, which includes but is not limited to Millennials. Then, I raced to the airport to jump on my next flight (to Sacramento) meeting with colleagues from McClatchy and the d School.

One of the surprises of the time in Sacramento was getting to present to McClatchy’s board of directors. Oddly, presenting to them really didn’t faze me … yet I struggled with the introductions/small talk beforehand as I couldn’t manage to say much more than providing them with my name and newspaper. In addition to our training as Smokejumpers, we also got to learn about teaching others by immersion as we had 3 unique experiences and then debriefed on the skills of the teachers: Tai Cooking & Making Mixed Drinks, Rockclimbing, and finally Yoga. Those that know me would probably be shocked to hear about me doing ANY of those, let alone all in one week.

Now that I’ve completed my week in Sacramento, I will be preparing to hand MEND & MCDC back to the teams so I can work with other teams as a Smokejumper. Of course, I’m still a member of MCDC and will return to Lexington for another round of training in early April. Plus, it remains to be seen what other business trips will be in my future. Somewhere in there will be McClatchy’s Incubator (probably in Raleigh) and perhaps some trips to jump into another team or 2 or 3 or …

Of course, I’m also going to squeeze in a few trips unrelated to my job with The Kansas City Star and McClatchy. This weekend, I’m taking my church youth group to Young Christians Weekend at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. Then, in July I’ll be taking them to Arkansas to visit Heifer International’s headquarters and Clinton Presidential Museum next door. But before that, I’ll be spending 4th of July in Georgia as I’m taking my parents to the Whitaker family reunion and a belated celebration of my Aunt Sara’s 80th birthday.

Happy Trails!
Mark Whitaker

P.S. After a week of traveling, I’ve spent the weekend in my recliner watching NCAA Basketball tournament; as I publish this, Wichita State leads Kansas by 3 (29-26) at halftime.