Wednesday Jan 13, 2010

Bring Out the Dogs

Every time I turned on the news, it seemed that they were talking about the arrival of the dogs - the rescue dogs, that is, to help uncover survivors in Haiti. It brought me me back to a memorable flight I had, where I sat next to the best seatmates an animal lover could ever ask for - Dawson and his handler, Ron Wechbacker. Amazing story, amazing contribution. Who knew?

Courage in Black and White, Redux.

And please, if you love your Sun bloggers, continue to follow us. I don't know much longer this particular site will be up, so I ask my readers to please bookmark tmacwords. You'll find me on Wordpress. Check your favorite Sun bloggers to see if they'll have alternate sites, too. You guys make the writing worthwhile; please follow us!

Monday Jan 11, 2010

If You Love Good Writing

...then it's time to treat yourself to a fantastic read by our very own Al Riske.

Precarious is out, and it's quite wonderful.

Wednesday Jan 06, 2010

Marrwiage - Lessons for the Wuvworn

No, it's not Valentine's Day. Or my anniversary (which is April 21, in case you wanted to send a thoughtful card!). Nope, just trying to be a good parent and answer some questions for my darlin' son, Andrew. Check it out:

Marrwiage...Is What Keeps Us Together...Today.

Monday Jan 04, 2010

Fairy Tales and Other Scary Stories

Man, we parents won't stop at anything to scare our kids straight! And have been doing it for centuries, I might add - all to little avail:

Freaky Fairy Tales

Monday Dec 07, 2009

A Sad Tale of Marital, uh, Grist

It seemed like a good idea - barbecue a turkey, then clean the kitchen up to surprise my sweetie. Alas. And alas again:

And Now for Something Really Amazing!

Monday Nov 30, 2009

Oh Come, All Ye Siblings...

Remember that old Irving Berlin song, Sisters? From White Christmas? Oh, sure you do... A few thoughts on siblings to wrap up this holiday weekend.

Sisters and Brothers

Monday Nov 23, 2009

My Mom and Our Journey: The story continues

Thanksgiving is a time for taking stock of what life has given you, and thanking whatever higher spirit you communicate with for the goodness around you. When your mom is dying, this becomes much more difficult. A few thoughts for your Thanksgiving week...

It Was the Best of Times; It Was the Worse of Times

Thursday Nov 19, 2009

My Mom

Words I Don't Want to Write

Tuesday Nov 17, 2009

Farmville Confessions

If I had an ounce of pride, I wouldn't admit this. But I guess I don't, because (drums, please):

I Was A Farmville Addict.

Can you afford to miss this cautionary tale?? Check it out at my new blog site on Wordpress: Farmer Terry, Retired!

Sunday Nov 08, 2009

The Mark Twain Award. Not.

Because I'm sure you're fascinated - nay, obsessed! - with every detail of my life, I wanted to give you an update on that book I've been promising would be out any day now. Plus, a flash back to my role as a gossip columnist. It's all here at About That Book I Was Writing...

Come see me!

Wednesday Nov 04, 2009

Another Sad Day

Saying goodbye to so many good people...

Another very sad day for Sun:

Sunday Nov 01, 2009

Aw, Come On... Haven't You Missed Me a Little?

I've missed all of you! So here's a quick catch-up:

I was totally surprised in Salt Lake City - just goes to show you have to be careful about assumptions. Check it out at Who Speaks for God, Anyhow?

And this week? The ultimate mash-up: Mondrian and The Three Little Pigs: Go Ahead - Be a Square

A little irreverence, a thought or two on big bad wolves and artwork - please hop over to my new blog at!


Monday Oct 19, 2009

Turn, Turn, Turn

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
(Ecclesiastes III (King James Version))

This is my time to change.

While I remain a part-time employee of my beloved Sun Microsystems, I've joined The Fibonacci Design Group, run by two friends and associates, Greg and Sloane Mann, to fill out the rest of my week - and to fulfill a growing need to express creativity in a different way.\*

Over the past 17 years, Greg and Sloane have created a truly extraordinary little company. When they came to visit me at Sun three years ago to show me the kind of work they were doing, I was blown away. Gorgeous work. Thoughtful work. So much more than pretty pictures, their designs were insightful, interactive, engaging. I was so impressed that I hired them at Sun to work on our Great Places to Work campaign in 2007. Together we created a campaign that I remain very proud of: "I have the Best Job at Sun."

Why join a design firm instead of hang out my own shingle? Why join a design firm instead of a more traditional communication firm? Why join a design firm instead of taking another corporate position?

Since going part-time in February, I've had a lot of time to think about what I really want to do next. One of my early realizations was that after having the opportunity to work at Sun, I was going to find it difficult to replace that experience. I need some distance, and so it feels right to return to my consulting roots.

Why not strike out alone? A number of reasons. First, I don't want to work 100 percent alone. I like the give and take of partnerships, the built-in opportunities to test ideas and learn from each other. Second, as I've discovered from my aborted attempts to paint using different methods, I find it very hard to break out of my comfort zone creatively. Surprisingly hard, if you know me. Working with Greg and Sloane forces me to view the world from a another perspective that I can combine with my own experience. I like that. A lot.

Why a design firm instead of a traditional agency? Because I want to get better at my craft and I want to expand my thinking. After all, being different is not always better, but being better is always different.

And so I'm taking a deep breath, and I'm leaping off that cliff of comfortable routine and well-known territory. As part of that, although I remain a part-time employee of Sun, this shall be my last post at blogs.sun. You can find my new posts - and my old ones - at Please join me! And please wish me luck.

You can get to know Greg and Sloane on their blogs, plus why they decided to name their company Fibonacci (a really interesting story but theirs to tell). And you can find more information about what I'm up to at our new website. Oh, and while my Sun email is still good, you can also reach me at

Sun will always hold a special place in my heart. Starting with Scott McNealy, Sun allowed me to take big risks, try new things, and build what was the finest employee communication team in the world. I don't know what the future holds with Sun and Oracle, and I hope I can have a part in the next chapter. But even if I don't, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Sun and its thousands of employees.

That was then. This is now. See you at my new adventure!


\* Important note: Sun’s Business Conduct Office blessed my partnership with Fibonacci as I am very part-time employee…

Monday Oct 05, 2009

Shiny New Toy or Revolution

There's been a pretty lively online discussion amongst the members of CCM (Council of Communication Management) about social networking and social media tools. It started off with what seemed to be an innocent question from one of our members:

What are your key challenges when building senior management support for social media strategies?

What followed was a flood of comments, but the conversation really peaked my interest when one of the greats in our profession, Roger D'Aprix, spoke up (quoted with permission):

"...Why are we trying so hard to ram social media down the throats of senior leaders and get them to do something their instincts tell them is not a good idea? Where is the business case? If we can't show one and if there isn't any demonstrable ROI, don't we run the risk of further diminishing our often fragile credibility as a profession?

My mother used to tell me long ago that "Just because everyone else is doing it is not a good enough reason." And in this case, even that is not yet true.

This will probably bring the wrath of the gods down on me, but if I were the senior decision-maker, I'd want to see a solid business case specific to my organization."

As usual, Roger pushed the group to make sure we were considering the right question.

There are surely many tactical issues to be considering when introducing social media to the "higher ups," and many tactical pitfalls when encouraging its use. But as Roger points out, if you don't know what problem you're trying to solve, the tactical issues are pretty irrelevant. Because no CEO worth his or her salt is going to approve an approach that is in search of a problem rather than the other way around.

So how do you determine the problem? Funny you should ask.

When I first came to Sun, I used my past experience to develop and articulate a way to develop true communication strategy. The tool, named the KAA Model (Knowledge, Attitude, Action) is an almost painfully simple way to keep the communication professional leading the discussion, not following. In its simplest form, you need to ask yourself a series of questions that will help you identify the gap between current state and desire future state. This is done before tools are selected.

Because while social networking is a revolutionary way to create different online behavior and true participation and exchange, you still need to know where you're going and how you'll know if you get there.

Look before you leap. Think before you recommend. Good mantras (trite because they're TRUE) to keep in mind regardless of how shiny the new toy is and how tempting it is to use...

Tuesday Sep 29, 2009

Marshmallows and Short-Term Thinking

In the 1960's, Walter Mischel created the Marshmallow Trials as a way to test the ability of children to delay gratification. It was a simple test. Could a young child wait a few minutes alone with a treat and resist eating it, in return for getting a second treat later on? (You can watch a recreation of that experiment on YouTube by pasting the following URL into your browser window: Mischel then did follow up studies to see if those children who could resist eating the marshmallow immediately would translate that willpower into more success in life than those who couldn't.

(True confession: Had I been in that study, I would have eaten that marshmallow within seconds of the adult leaving the room. I would have jammed it into my mouth without a second thought.)


Those who were children in the early 1960's are now, of course, adults charged with the responsibility of running businesses and the country. And judging by the fix this country is in, I'm not the only one who struggles with not eating the marshmallow immediately. We seem to be a society struggling with delayed gratification. Pay now for a reward later? Uh uh. We don't really like to do that. And marshmallow eater that I am, I totally sympathize.

But I think we have to get over it. Including me... After all, we're not five-year olds being asked to hold off on a treat. We're adults responsible for our society, including the health, safety, education, and welfare of our fellow citizens. We must pay now to get services later. It's the way it works. And that means - yes, the dreaded "T" word: taxes.

Speaking of... do you remember when California had a tax surplus some years back and there was a big ruckus about whether or not the state should return it. The checks would amount to something under $100 per household. I remember one particularly emotional letter to the Los Angeles Times in which the writer commented that while that money might not mean much to some people, it would pay for a nice dinner out for her and her husband. Eat the marshmallow now. Don't wait until later.

I hate paying taxes. And I pay a ton of them. But I support tax increases that protect my health and welfare. Like education. And health care. And the fire department. And the police. And the park system. We need to stop kidding ourselves that there is all this waste in the system that, if eliminated, would pay for everything. That's magical thinking, and it does not work. So could we, the voting population, and our politicians please put the rhetoric, emotion and slogans away so we can actually get something done? I want reformed health care. Because I don't want to catch your disease. I want great education. Because I want informed, intelligent people running our companies and our country. I want firefighters to save my home. I want roads that aren't falling apart. I don't want to have to say a prayer before driving over a bridge.

We're not children anymore. Time to not eat that marshmallow and go for a longer term reward. Please?




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