Cool Uncles

29 05 2013

FesterApologies in advance for my liberal, Fonzie-esque usage of the word “cool” in this post.

Cool Uncles are a universal truth. There are more Uncles than parents, and lots more nephews and nieces than sons and daughters. My second favorite alias is “Uncle John”. First is “Dad”, but that is too large a subject for a measly blog post. My point is – I’ve had them, I am one… deal wit dat!

I love all my nieces and nephews. They currently range from 16 to 32 years old. They live as close to me as a few miles, and as far as 700 miles away.

All the relationships are good ones, some tighter than others. Measurable stuff these days as we are Facebook and/or Twitter connections, and I have all their cell phone numbers… “Hey bitches!” I’m sure that with them I get a coolness bump that I don’t have with my boys. And I’m also sure that my boys think their Uncles are pretty cool.

Joe Langan, my Dad and grand philosopher, used to say… “Aaahh, family. That’s what it’s all about.” Like my boys, the nieces and nephews are all hitting the various high points in life… graduations, prom, first cars, new jobs, boyfriends and girlfriends… all great stuff. I’m sure there is drama in their lives too, but that’s not my problem – another cool Uncle thing. My nephew David just got engaged, which is very cool! I’m sure that in no time I will be the coolest Great-Uncle ever!!! The thuds you just heard were my sisters fainting…

Looking back, I thought my Uncles were cool as well…

  • Uncle Mickey was a rebel, like his namesake, Michael Collins. He spent time in prison in Belfast, then had a long career in the US Army. A good, good man, full of stories, energy, and love of family. He lost his son, my cousin Michael when we were kids. There are five of my cousins in Ireland somewhere… I wish we were all still in touch.
  • Uncle Ed was a tall, quiet man… always present at our house on holidays. His car was left to me when he passed… a white 1965 Plymouth Satellite with red leather interior. Still my favorite car.
  • Uncle James was always smiling and laughing… he told the best jokes! I could write a completely giddy blog about the O’Hagan family… our dearest friends from my childhood.
  • Uncle Frank was great… Outwardly a little cantankerous, but I saw his heart of gold. I was fortunate to spend a summer in Colorado with the Falsettos when I was in high school… the best time. Forever glad that I got to have some quality time with him and Auntie Anne before they left us.

My only Uncle today is Tom Langan, my Dad’s brother. Perhaps the coolest of them all. My Dad passed in 2009 after a series of strokes left him unable to do much. While his body was willing, his mind wasn’t. Right now his brother Tom is going through the exact opposite thing. He is still the same sharp, intelligent, funny man… but his octogenarian body is letting him down a bit these days. While he is the only remaining link to that generation of Langans, I don’t think he is going anywhere soon!

Très cool Tom Langan is resolute that he wants to live his way. I admire that so much, maybe because my Dad didn’t get the opportunity. His daughters worry, because they want him to be safe… I do too. But what makes Uncle Tom so very cool is that his determination isn’t wrapped in anger. Because he’s such a good man, he is taking things in thoughtful stride. Granted I am not there all the time, and maybe my cousins would tell a slightly different story. But at 85 he’s earned the right to be a little stubborn. It’s that wonderful stubbornness that I hope to emulate, when the time comes. The thuds you just heard were my sons fainting…

I’m way too loud to ever be associated with quiet strength and dignity. I think my Dad had it, as does his brother. Although they were very different men and traveled on very separate roads, those Langan boys will always be two of the coolest cats I know.

I hope to keep visiting my Uncle as much as possible. Not sure if he gets anything out of it, but I sure do. I like to bend his ear about the family and my Dad. Because family is what it’s all about.

Be cool.

Bulleit_Rye_ManhattanMy Uncle Tom passed away on July 8th.  On his terms, in his home in Ocean City, NJ.  I got to visit with him a few times since I wrote this post, as recently as a couple of weeks ago.  As usual, we had a great talk.

Manhattans all around, on me…

Carving A Good Stone

24 05 2013

librarpstesdfsdfsdfAccording to the website Dangerous Minds… “This headstone, located in the Goldfield Pioneer Cemetery in Goldfield, Nevada is apparently real. There are some doubts on the Internet as the red paint appears to be in mighty fine shape for being over 100 years old. Perhaps someone maintains the grave since it’s so unusual?”

Even if it’s not real, it’s pretty damn funny.

I’ve noticed when visiting my parent’s grave that there aren’t really any funny epitaphs. While beautiful and scenic, it is a somber place. Messages on the headstones are standard. Very poetic. Very tame. Very boring. I suppose that better content for this blog would be found in a non-Catholic cemetery…

I’m hoping I’ll have something extremely profound on my stone for future generations, or random people walking by. Something that will make a statement about my life and accomplishments. Or funny, like Rodney Dangerfield’s “There Goes The Neighborhood!” inscription.

At this point I haven’t accomplished anything headstone worthy, so it looks I’ll have to go with funny. But as I don’t plan on exiting this world anytime soon, I still have time to make a mark – in life and marble!

It could happen like this…

  • As a social media maven – “Founder of the LanganSpace Holographic Social Network”.
  • I know a little bit about soccer… “USA World Cup Winning Coach”. Or team bus driver?
  • Will one of my children give me the boost I need? “Here Lies John Langan, Father of the First Man on Mars”. Of course, if this happened I would want one of those cool Spock photon torpedo funerals!
  • Perhaps I will have an interesting death… “Centenarian, Died In Kiln Explosion”. I was making someone a pot…

I hope I don’t have to think about this anytime soon, but pondering is always good exercise for the brain. And I’m not sure if a cemetery plot is for me anyway. Stay tuned for a blog called “Creative Ash Scattering”.

If you have any suggestions for an appropriate epitaph, please comment below. It doesn’t have to be appropriate, either… best suggestion wins a much sought after “legs end” pall bearer position at my funeral services.

This weekend and everyday, lets not forget and be thankful for all of the people who have served our country, and whose epitaphs credit them for the freedom we enjoy.

God Bless America.

Social, My Way

19 05 2013

franksinatraI unabashedly love Social Media.  Not just for business, but my personal life too.  I’m so appreciative of rekindled relationships that I had thought were gone forever.  And that Social Media love is not unrequited, either.  Social loves me too.

And what’s not to love?  Social has made the already incredible world wide web that much more incredible.  It has torn down governments, companies, and people… most who actually deserved it.  Social reports news faster, and sometimes more accurately.

Social Media will continue to change and evolve as more platforms are created.  But it will always be about people sharing and conversing.  It is the greatest equalizer, giving everyone a voice in this mad world.  Good or bad, the people who use Social correctly will be the influencers in the years ahead.

One of my favorite sayings is, “There is a right way and a wrong way to do things.”  I believe this professionally, and personally.  No life lessons today, so you can relax.  Like everything, as Social evolves it must be done the right way.

Let the record show, this is My Way:

  • Be Positive!  I recently saw a post by my local soccer equipment store, linking to the article about the referee who was killed  during a match in Phoenix.  Yep… that’s a mistake.  Always provide content that reflects positively on your company and the industry you serve.  It’s simple, you get nothing from negative.
  • Engage!  Social Media is a giant conversation, so jump in.  Give your audience something to think about.  Your content should be such that your customer wants to respond.  Then you reply, and so on, and so on…  Ask questions and provide answers.    This will inspire trust and more engagement.
  • Don’t Hide!  No business does things 100% right.  Embrace any customers who push back at you, or attack you on SM.  Work to solve their problems publicly and show your commitment to getting things right.
  • Truth Rules!  Simply put, don’t lie.  Make sure you that what you say is correct.  Your customer is not just listening, but they are out there talking about your company, and probably to everyone but you.  They may not agree with what you put out there, but you will do a lot better if it is real and accurate.
  • Push The Envelope!  Don’t be afraid to get  little bit out of your comfort zone.  Be funny.  If you don’t think you are, find someone who can help you.  Don’t push it all the time, just enough to let your audience know that Robby the Robot isn’t creating your content.  So, link to that funny article or post that cartoon… it’s liberating!
  • Share!  Coming up with good content is tough, so don’t be afraid to share relevant content from other sources.  And if you want to really push that aforementioned envelope, share something from a competitor.  Shows confidence, don’t you think?  It will probably freak out your competitor a bit too.  Give them credit, of course…
  • Quality First!  Quantity second.  If you have something relevent to say or share, do it.  If not, keep quiet and listen to the conversation.  Posting for the sake of posting can dilute your message.  No yapping!

Looking at some of the key terms, it’s sort of “old school”… conversations, trust, talking, truth, quality, etc.  Nothing really new or earth shattering here.  Social… it’s new?  Nope, it’s old… and it’s all about people, people!

And I said there would be no life lessons…

Where Have You Gone, Lydia Limpet?

14 05 2013

bookworm2I wish I had more time, energy and the inclination to read.

I’ve been fortunate in recent years to meet and get to know some – in my opinion – terrific local authors.  In talking to them I see how much they pour their hearts and souls into every story, every word.  The creative process is astounding to me, and I admire them all for sharing their gifts.

There is nothing like completely immersing oneself in a good book or story.  I get that committed to reading only in short spurts, mostly in the summer.  I assumed that when I got an iPad a couple of years ago I would read more, once I got used to not holding a bound book in my hand.  I embraced the technology, but it didn’t increase my reading.

I recently joined Goodreads, a mobile app community where your online friends can rub it in your face that they are reading many more books than you, and the ones they are reading are much more serious and mature.  But I’m not bitter!!  Like I’m sure everyone did, I listed all of the books that I’ve read that would help people find me oh so fascinating.  I also listed a few glimpses into my silly soul, like “Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopy Pants” – check it!  But Goodreads is a neat little thang that I had hoped would motivate me to read more.  Alas, not so much…

I must point out, dear reader, that there are so many distractions these days for me… work, family, friends old and new, soccer games anywhere, bike riding, the previously mentioned iPad, Facebook, Twitter, OMG Instagram, “Big Bang Theory”, CNN, my dog Stan, more work…  Wait!  Is “Wipeout” on TV tonight???  When this list started to form in my mind it was, again, much more serious and mature.

Guess I have to make a effort to read more.  Set aside the time.  Give it the old college try.  And not just because my reasons/excuses for not reading are shit.  But because reading is good for the soul, even one as silly as mine.

UPDATE:  The previously mentioned author friends of mine are Jonathan Mayberry and Dennis Tafoya.  Both dark, troubled men… Check them out!

The Trouble With Tenure

9 05 2013

1236266Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement as manager of Manchester United yesterday. Immediately the questions were being asked as to who would take his place.  I am formally removing my name as a candidate because of my dislike of the UK climate, and the British refusal to use ice in drinks.  David Moyes seems the likely choice to me, but I’m sure it will not be a quick process.  It is clear is that Sir Alex will play a major role in picking his successor, and rightly so. Given his success, he deserves that respect.

Joe Paterno never got that chance, although he was equally deserving. I can hear you all grumbling already about the Sandusky case, but even without that dark cloud JoePa wasn’t going to be involved. There was a movement within the university to remove him for years, which certainly would have translated into a sad exit. And it happened anyway.

Similarly, a local high school coach with a successful resume has retired, and through some behind the scenes machinations has been denied the transition he had hoped. I know this man fairly well, and am very disappointed that the (what I perceive to be) right thing wasn’t done. He is a good man at heart, but has certainly rubbed some people wrong along the way. But does that make it right?

Now that I’ve presented three sports related scenarios, I’ll ask the question… What’s the point of tenure? I don’t think we will see the likes of these three again… people who do a great job in one place for decades. Our attention span won’t allow it. We are always looking for the next thing, and the one after that, and so on… It’s a world of instant gratification.

The same thing applies for people like us.  I’ve been with the same company off and on for almost 30 years. You might think that longevity and a bunch of white hair would make me the wise, elder statesman. Not so much…

I was recently dubbed a social media “expert” in our company. Although I’ve had the skills and knowledge for some time, it wasn’t really recognized until another expert outside the company pointed it out.  No biggie… I get that it isn’t always easy to see something right in front of you.  But I was suddenly aware that I’ve been guilty of this myself, and I’ve recently had several conversations about this very subject.  While the years don’t entitle one to special treatment, the increasing perception that longer tenured employees lack new and exciting ideas is disappointing.  And while we say there is value in experience, our actions sometime say something different.

I’m going to make myself a promise to first look inside, then outside the box. Seems fair to me.

UPDATE:  As I said in my first blog… Writing is difficult for me.  I started this entry 12 hours ago.  Since then it was announced that David Moyes is the new manager at Manchester United.  Of course I will be gracious and wish him the best.

Glory, Glory Man United!

… I’m Sticking To It!

6 05 2013

photoBicycle rides usually clear my head.  When I jumped on the bike this afternoon, the idea of a blog surfaced in my head for the thousandth time.  “Might be a perfect thing to do on a Sunday evening”, I said to myself.  But just getting started – with anything – has always been most difficult for me, personally and professionally.  Certain friends will want to insert a joke here – please go directly to the comment section below.  But once I get started there is usually no stopping me.

So here I sit… Hopefully this process will get easier as time goes by.

Many people… Okay, two people… have suggested that I should blog.  Not just because I’m funny, smart, creative, and have a point to make to this crazy mixed up world.  These are all valid reasons, of course.  As a marketing professional I get that blogging will give me a credible online presence.  It will increase my Googleability.  And that is a word.  Google it.

So I’m going to make this first blog an easy one… no rants, stands, opinions, essays, controversies or outrageousness – at least for now!  This is my “strategy”… When the mood strikes me I will wax poetically about me and my thangs.  Subjects may include professional stuff I know, like email marketing and social media.  Maybe I’ll write about my love of the beautiful game – I’m a Red Devil, a proud SoB, and an American Outlaw.  As I get more comfortable I may tackle issues of the day and my extremely slow journey from conservative to liberal.  Perhaps I should issue some advance apologies to my family and friends for personal stories I may reference.  Most of all, I’ll be honest.  Otherwise, what’s the point?

I’m not sure why Google or any of you will be interested in my ramblings, so I shall write for myself and let the chips fall where they may.  I’m hoping it will be therapeutic, and maybe get some interesting conversations going.  I’m a proud American, but also an Irishman who loves me some good craic.  Feel free to Google that one too.

So that’s my story, and…