Tag Archive: Stairway to Heaven


After at least four years of more lectures, labs, study groups, readings, papers and presentations than you would ever care to count, the prospect of taking up to another 18 months to attain a master’s degree or maybe even four years to earn a Ph.D is a prospect most graduating seniors would rather not even think about.

And yet the question still persists for some: Should you seriously consider taking the advanced degree plunge right here and now following graduation? Consider that even more employers are requiring advanced degrees; many want MBAs.

Before answering this perplexing interrogative: Consider the unmistakable NFW response by the author of Almost DailyBrett in 1978. Yours truly had just received his bachelor’s in Broadcasting Journalism from the University of Southern California. There was simply no way when it came to the question of signing up for even more college.

I was done, thank you very much.

Looking back at that easy-and-yet momentous decision, your author now regrets not pursuing a master’s degree right then and there, when he was as free as a bird … no spouse, no kidlet, no mortgage, no car payment … absolutely nothing.

Fortunately, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were right in Stairway to Heaven: “Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”

A confluence of events in my life (i.e., widowerhood, adult daughter, real estate appreciation, fellowship) gave me that one-last-chance-in-a-lifetime opportunity in 2010 to pursue my master’s degree in mid-life at the University of Oregon.

The author of Almost DailyBrett was very fortunate, very fortunate indeed.

Died and Went to Heaven

When the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication offered me a fellowship, your author jumped at the opportunity in two nanoseconds or less.

You should do the same, if you are selected for an on-campus fellowship at a R1 university.

Becoming a Graduate Teaching Fellow (GTF) provides the following benefits:

  1. An absolutely free master’s degree or Ph.D … yep no-instate or better yet, no out-of-state or private school tuition;
  2. Medical, dental and vision health care benefits for at least the fellow, and maybe the whole family as well;
  3. A stipend of $1,000 or more per month;
  4. Invaluable teaching experience as a teaching assistant to a professor.

As Almost DailyBrett wrote before, I appreciated this unbelievable deal and thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was perplexing to say the least when the University of Oregon GTFs went on strike in 2014 … Patience, Kevin. Patience. Let’s not get started on this subject again.

Some have asked: Should I take an online master’s degree or Ph.D? My short answer is nein.

If one is pursuing an advanced degree in public relations, marketing, journalism, broadcast, film etc., it is best to be on campus to directly interact with your colleagues and Ph.D professors. Sorry to say, file sharing and texting just don’t cut it.

If one is pursuing an advanced degree in accounting, an online program may be appropriate. Having said that, communications requires – face-to-face interaction and diplomacy – no online program can help you advance these interpersonal story telling skills.

What about the necessary evil? The Graduate Record Exam (GRE)?

Brace yourself and come to full acceptance mode as quickly as possible. Any graduate school worth its salt (sorry University of Phoenix, that designation does NOT apply to you), particularly a Research One or R1 university, will require the GRE.

Your author took it twice, the second time after a prep course, and lived to talk about it. Take the prep course and do as well as possible on the GRE.

What About Grad School?

“No one does bull shit better than you.” – A compliment from one of my USC fraternity brothers

Trust me, bull shit does not work in Pro Seminar.

The two-night-per week, three-hours per class, was the most intense review of communications philosophy one can imagine (i.e., Kant, Marx, Althusser, Descartes, Hegel, Le Bon …). Don’t even think about going to class without doing the reading; you can’t hide in plain sight for three hours. Don’t even think about B.S.- ing a full professor with a Ph.D in Philosophy from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.

And once you have navigated the benign sounding, but mind-numbing Pro Seminar class with its up-to-five hours per night of reading, you will be ready for … qualitative and quantitative analysis in the next quarter.

Sounds horrible? Right?

In reality, pursuing a graduate degree was an incredible and rewarding challenge. It soon dawned on me that I was only using a mere fraction of my brain. I made some great friends as well.

One of my profs said: “We are working on your intellectual growth.”

Intellectual growth? Me? Really?

Oh, did I mention that my master’s degree was an absolute prerequisite for landing a tenure track professorship in public relations and advertising at Central Washington University? Guess, learning about Immanuel Kant and his categorical imperatives was well worth it.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/taking-the-gre-again/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/are-striking-uo-graduate-teaching-fellows-certifiable/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/online-college-not-good-enough-for-pr/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/did-a-perfect-storm-lead-to-the-gathering-storm/

 

 

“ … But in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.” – Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Stairway to Heaven

ledzep 

“Once upon a time, you could kick ass together.” – Robert Plant 

Ever onward.” – Robert Plant

Sometimes we have to resist the temptation to take the easy way out, even though we may invoke the wrath of those closest to us.

If you don’t believe Almost DailyBrett, just ask former Led Zeppelin singer-now solo musician Robert Plant.

For Plant, the road remains the same … but he is traveling with a new band.

The Sensational Space Shifters

I’ve been very lucky to be attached and in love with so many different genres. It only seems fair game to me to pilfer and be seduced by these different forms and bring them together.” – Robert Plant 

Seven years ago, three of the original members of Led Zeppelin (e.g., Plant, Page, John Paul Jones) and Jason Bonham, the son of deceased drummer John Henry Bonham, came together for one special December night at London’s O2 Arena. The memorial concert for Atlantic Records chief Ahmet Ertegün is commemorated in a Grammy-winning Blu-Ray DVD, Celebration Day.  

Celebration Day supercharged those who yearn for a Led Zeppelin reunion, but it also reopened a chasm namely between Page and Plant. Page wants to reunite the band. Plant wants to continue his wildly successful solo career. The net result: No second iteration of Led Zeppelin.

Conceivably, Plant is under a considerable amount of peer, emotional and financial pressure (offers a tons of green) at 66-years-young. Despite these forces, Plant has emerged at peace with himself, and is not looking back.

The present-day evidence is a new Plant (Will Almost DailyBrett date itself by using either album or even CD?) collection of songs lullaby … and The Ceaseless Roar. In addition, Plant is touring with his new band, the Sensational Space Shifters.

The collection of songs and the new Plant solo tour may not be what Led Zeppelin fans desire or certainly not Page and the “stifling industry” desires, but this is what Plant wants to do.

The Honeydrippers/Band of Joy/Blue Grass with Alison Krauss

plantkrauss

After Led Zeppelin disbanded after selling 300 million records in 1980, immediately following the unfortunate passing of Bonham (40 vodka shots in 24 hours), Plant et al. could have called it a career with flush bank accounts and their legacies secure.

Ultimately, that’s not the script that Plant wanted to follow as he plunged into his solo adventure, and not just a resumption of a heavy-metal career with a new band. Plant raised more than a few eyebrows with 1940s crooning throw-back songs with the Honeydrippers.

He toured with his own rock band in the 1990s, playing a heady mixture of his own works from Now and Zen and Manic Nirvana, some covers and five or six songs from the Led Zeppelin days including Whole Lotta Love, What Is And What Should Never Be and Ramble On.

Coming closer to an actual Led Zeppelin reunion was Plant’s collaborative work with Page on No Quarter, featuring the two teaming on a half-dozen Zep songs, most notably the epic Kashmir with a full orchestra and an Egyptian ensemble in 1994.

Instead of Zeppelin, Plant eventually turned to Blue Grass and Alison Krauss. The two cleaned up the 2009 Grammy Awards winning five: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Pop Collaboration with Vocals, Country Collaboration with Vocals, and Contemporary Folk/Americana Album.

And now Plant has headed in yet another post-Led Zeppelin direction, this time rocking (and other genres and lullabies) with his Sensational Space Shifters.

Trying to Make Peace with His Aging Band-mates

Page clearly and repeatedly stated that he wants to reunite Led Zep, the very band that generated 20 million ticket requests for the 18,000 seats at the O2 Arena. Potentially, there could be a new album and gazillions to be made. John Paul Jones is resigned a reunion will not occur.LedZep3

 

Plant knows he is the one that precludes a Led Zeppelin reunion, but that does not diminish his respect for what Led Zeppelin meant for his successful and diversified career.

(Led Zeppelin is) like visiting an old friend, the stuff you’ve forgotten about that made you like something in the first place,” said Plant. “And, of course, from the vocalist’s viewpoint, I was learning my trade. There was a totally different R.P. than what there is now, which is fine. That’s how it should be.”

And that is how it will be. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/08/arts/music/robert-plant-releases-lullaby-and-the-ceaseless-roar.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/27/arts/music/robert-plant-with-led-zeppelin-hits-and-more.html

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/robert-plant-disappointed-in-jimmy-page-and-led-zep-reunion-rumors-20140730

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmet_Erteg%C3%BCn

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Plant

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhyW3_2f02w

Launching a Second Career?

“From adversity comes opportunity.” – Hall of Fame Football Coach Lou Holtz

“Don’t give up; don’t ever give up.” – Jim Valvano Farewell Speech

“ … There are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.” – Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”

There was a real question for months-on-end about whether this particular Almost DailyBrett blog post would ever be written.

The reason is simple. It’s much more difficult than anyone would anticipate, launching a second act when one reaches the “difficult” age of 50 or above. This point is particularly magnified for the so-called “privileged” pale male of the species.

clint

No one seems to like these angry white males. Let’s marginalize this irksome demographic (e.g., put them out to pasture).

And yet there is hope for those – both women and men — approaching their Golden Years particularly those with plenty of gas in the tank with what can be called,  a sunny outlook on life.

Didn’t Ronald Reagan launch a second career at 69-years young after six years of uneventful long-term unemployment?

Aren’t the Rolling Stones touring the UAE, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand in their 70s?

Judi Dench at 69-years of age couldn’t make the Academy Awards Sunday night because she was shooting a movie in India. You go girl!

The same is true for the author of Almost DailyBrett. Starting this September, yours truly will serve as a tenure-track Assistant Professor at Central Washington University, teaching public relations and advertising to college students.

Yes, this most likely is my incredibly satisfying encore after three decades in political-corporate-agency public relations.

For a wide variety of reasons the recession/economic downturn that stubbornly refuses to enter into full recovery mode, claimed literally hundreds of thousands of Baby Boomer victims during the course of last decade.

In many cases, their P&Ls simply collapsed. They were making five-figures or in some cases, six-figures and the first number was not necessarily a “1.” Despite their knowledge and experience …or maybe because of their knowledge and experience…they became too damn expensive.

babyboomers

It was time to cut expenses and to layoff those who were not going to be part of an organization’s dynamic future. These Baby Boomers reacted by thinking about simply landing another six-figure “position.” Surely someone would be grateful for their services…or surely, not.

After months of furtive searching, burning through inadequate unemployment checks and dipping into savings, joining the ranks of the long-time unemployed, some of these cashiered Baby Boomers came up in many cases with the wrong solution: Start their own businesses and burn down nest eggs. For a few it worked. For most it did not.

Putting out your shingle and being your own boss sounds appealing on the surface, but in most cases it’s a major pain. You have to find the business against strong competitors. If successful, you have to service the business. You have to retain the business. You have to bill…and hope that you will be paid in a timely manner, if it all.

Many took a hint and retired in their late 50s/early 60s, years before Medicare eligibility. As The Economist stated: “A growing number of the long-term unemployed find ways to qualify as disabled and never work again.” The number of DI beneficiaries in 1970; 1.5 million; 2013, 8.9 million. The disability trust fund is due to go broke in 2016.

Okay, acknowledging that an uphill climb still confronts the long-term unemployed Baby Boomer, what are some realistic strategies to launch a second career, get back into the game, and put more hop-and-skip into her or his jump?

Continuous Self-Improvement. Even though you may detest exercise, you need to dedicate at least 30 minutes daily, six days per week (one day off) for cross-training. That means reasonable resistance training with weights three days a week and aerobic exercise (e.g., running, elliptical, treadmill, spinning) another three days per week. This should be a religious experience, meaning you believe you are sinning if you miss a day. At a minimum, you will feel better about yourself and better project a more youthful demeanor.

crosstraining

Calories In; Calories Out. No one wants to hear this mantra, but that along with exercise is the solution to adipose tissue. Serve meals on salad-size plates instead of dinner plates. Think portions. Eat more veggies and fruits. Drink more water. Divide entrees with a significant other when you go out (you will still go home with a Bowser bag). Lose your convulations.

Lifelong Learning. Know what is going on in the world, even if Russia’s latest invasion or the massive U.S. deficit does not please you. Project yourself as engaged in your world, nation, state and community. Devour digital and conventional media.

Embrace Digital. That means as CNBC’s Jim Cramer would say: social, mobile and cloud. Those Baby Boomer colleagues of the editor-in-chief of Almost DailyBrett  that are agnostic to social media all have something in common: They are all unemployed. Write a blog. Participate in social media. Keep up with digital trends. Google yourself. Immediately clean up your act, if necessary.

Always Think SEO. WordPress, Wix and others give you free plug-and-play tools to build your own personal brand websites. LinkedIn provides you with the tools to incorporate your professional personal photos, presentations, glowing references and career accomplishments. Use them. And then employ social media to spread the word. Update your resume. If you don’t know what SEO stands for, look it up.

Build Your Network. Every LinkedIn connection is a friend. Every LinkedIn Group is a collection of like-minded friends. Don’t rely on the black hole of job boards. Develop relationships. Find the hiring managers. Ask for informational interviews. As you well know, it’s not what you know, but who you know.

Consider Going Back to School. It may not be easy to be a Non-Trad Student as earlier reported in Almost DailyBrett, but attaining that elusive undergraduate or advanced degree at a minimum demonstrates tenacity, dedication and commitment. As Martha would say, these are all good things. My new position would not have been possible without my recently earned graduate degree, attained 34 years after my undergraduate degree.

Put Yourself in a Young Environment. The ultimate start-ups are college campuses. No one is thinking about retirement or long-term disability checks. For students, the future is now and it is damn exciting. Think of your future that way as well. If you are 60, you should be contemplating your next three decades of so on the planet…if you are so lucky.clint1

Avoid Starting Your Own Business … unless you really want to. Burning up your nest egg on a business that fails is a double whammy. Find something different that you want to do and can do with gusto. I am really looking forward to resuming my teaching, and in particular mentoring students as they transition from graduates to professionals.

Stay Away from Federal and State Assistance. Are you really disabled? Can you volunteer? Can you take a “job” rather than a “position” to get back on track? We need more taxpayers in this country, not more of those on the dole as evidenced by the record 46 million on Food Stamps.

Find Love. Having someone in your corner supporting you and willing to listen when the storm clouds are the darkest is indispensible. Being able to check the “married” box sends a very positive message, and may prompt someone important to look at your application twice.

That may be just the break that your second career needs.

http://livingstingy.blogspot.com/2010/07/your-second-career-plan-on-it.html

http://www.aarp.org/work/working-after-retirement/info-10-2013/reimagine-your-life.html

http://www.aarp.org/work/working-after-retirement/info-05-2011/ready-for-an-encore.html

http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/ronaldreagan

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21597898-if-barack-obama-wants-increase-economic-opportunity-he-should-embrace-ideas

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21597925-want-make-america-less-unequal-here-are-some-suggestions-memo-obama

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/the-courage-to-succeed-as-non-trad-students/

ledzep

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run; There’s still time to change the road you’re on.” – Robert Plant, Jimmy Page

Even though I was serving as the chief spokesperson for the Governor of California, George Deukmejian, I was still nervous and a little excited about meeting Richard M. Ferry, one of the co-founders of the largest headhunting firm in the world, Korn/Ferry International.

As we met in 1989 in his Century City office, he asked me how long I had worked for the Duke up to that point. I replied: Eight years.

He inquired whether I was proud of my tenure with the governor.

His question struck me as curious. I replied in the affirmative.

He noted that while I saw my eight years as a source of pride, a future employer could very well see that period of time as “stagnation.”

“Stagnation”?

Guess the golden days of starting in the mail room and ending up in the corner suite 40 years later are gone, long gone.

And I was counting on receiving my gold watch, and fading into the sunset.

Later in my career, I established the Corporate Public Relations Department for LSI Logic Corporation.

Our founder, chairman and chief executive officer Wilf Corrigan was a serial wanderer. His management by walking around style included a daily stop to my Silicon Valley cube to talk about the news and what was happening with his company and his semiconductor industry.

Each day I prepared for his arrival, keeping notes about developments that warranted CEO attention. Originally, I thought that yours truly was not cut out for a corporate environment. I was wrong. I loved my days with LSI Logic, and especially working with Wilf…even though I did not report to him…I still worked for him.

After my 10 years on the job, Wilf (in concert with the Board of Directors) made the decision to retire from the job at 67-years young. A new Intel(ligent) CEO came in the door. He brought a slew of Intel(ligent) folks with him. I knew the writing was on the wall.

Shortly thereafter, I negotiated a get-out-of-town package and was out the door. The company stock was $8 and change when Wilf stepped down as chief executive. The Intel(ligent) team promised so much upon their storied arrival eight years ago. Today the stock opened at a robust $7.22 in the midst of a long-term bull market.

After accepting an executive position with Edelman Public Relations, I would periodically hear from my former colleagues still toiling at LSI Logic. They asked me for my humble opinion about what they should do. Being a man of few words (just kidding), I gave them a two-word reply: “Get out.”

And each time I received the response that the Intel(ligent) ones respected an LSIer for his or her 12 years with the company, 14 years with the company, 15 years with the company…Each of these LSIers was eventually laid off.

I couldn’t help but ponder the words of Richard Ferry about “stagnation.” You have to sense when a job or a situation has dramatically changed and has reached the point of no return. You can’t pretend that it hasn’t, when the circumstances have clearly shifted.

What’s that about not being able to go home again?

It is human nature to not embrace change. We know our routines. We are happy when we are in our comfort zones. Alles ist in Ordnung until the shift occurs.

When George Deukmejian decided to not run for a third term (even though he could legally take that step at the time), my life changed and thus my meeting with Richard Ferry.

When Wilf Corrigan stepped down at LSI Logic, I knew instinctively a chapter in my life was closing and I made a change.

When my wife, Robin, of 22 years died of cancer, my life changed whether I liked it or not.

And when I faced cancer and Valley Fever myself, I saw my own mortality pass before my own eyes twice. I knew that change is unavoidable and it must be managed.

And when change is in the offing, you can lament about it, feel sorry for yourself, or you can accept the shift and do something about it.

At the risk of publicly patting myself on the back, I choose to manage as opposed to having other Intel(ligent) people manage me. As Robert and Jimmy said in Stairway to Heaven there still is time to change the road you’re on.

For me, I sense another change. The Office of the Governor was a nice run. LSI Logic was a blast. Edelman was a great learning experience, The University of Oregon provided me with a new diploma, a foreign language certificate, a research award and substantial upper division public relations teaching experience.

So what will I do next? What chapters of my life will follow? Or will I be writing chapters of my own book?

I can hardly wait to find out.

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/ledzeppelin/stairwaytoheaven.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korn/Ferry

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