How to write a speech that doesn’t suck if you are a wife (or a husband) of a presumptive presidential nominee

(Image: Melania Trump gives a speech at the RNC convention in Cleveland on July 18, 2016 (CNN photo))


Okay, let’s get a few things straight. Party affiliations aside, it’s neat that a wife of a presumptive presidential nominee was born outside of the U.S. and in Communist nation, no less. Gives her a global perspective (baby carrots don’t grow this way, most of the world doesn’t have paper towels, kids walk to school alone and survive). Also, don’t hate her for being beautiful. And the accent? Big deal, I got one too, even though we both spent most of our lives in the U.S. as citizens, some with better purses and a personal chef.


“Hey comrade, join our farming collective!” (From The Huffington Post)

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Terry Gross on not having kids and a civil chat on parenting

Back in grad school, I had an opportunity to interview Terry Gross, the host of NPR’s Fresh Air radio show on WHYY.

She finally agreed to an interview for the school paper after I stalked her for a couple of weeks and eventually told her in a voicemail of how Fresh Air has impacted me as an immigrant.

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Dow Jones Newswires: Community-Supported Agriculture: Fresh Boost for Organic Food

I wrote this story when I worked for Dow Jones Newswires, during the boom of the organic food movement in the U.S.  It details the passion and the challenges organic growers face. For research, I volunteered on a farm in upstate New York and interviewed, among others, Farmer John of Angelic Organics in Chicago (he is the man behind the documentary film Real Dirt on Farmer John).

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Williams, Stewart and storytelling in journalism and public relations

Two developments in the world of journalism last week got me thinking about storytelling.

Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News, was suspended for falsely claiming his helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during the Iraq war. The credibility of the journalist, who’d won multiple awards and increased the network’s viewership, is now at stake.

And Jon Stewart announced that after 17 years of hosting The Daily Show – where despite disavowing the show’s seriousness, he was hailed as a voice of the generation – he plans to step down.

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Beyond the Haves and Have Nots: The Family Sharing Economy

(Flickr photo by Ashley Smith)

Did you know that Americans give birth to three percent of world’s kids but buy 40 percent of all the world’s toys?

That’s a lot of toys. Throw in a big home for storage and the mostly overseas labor that goes into manufacturing and shipping, right before the stuff is committed to rot in landfills.


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Brains on Fire: shushing the creative inner critic

What comes to mind when you think of the word …marketing?

Perhaps a dude in a suit hovers before your mind’s eye, or the mob of flashing web banners and Twitter headlines?

Whatever you thought of, probably you didn’t think of art.

Yet the 2010 book Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements by the self-titled marketing company, challenges the idea that marketing lacks artistry. I’m not talking about PowerPoints by art majors or ad taglines penned by disillusioned writers. I mean art for art’s sake.

To be fair, Brains on Fire is a marketing book – and an innovative one, at that. The authors recommend that we kill slogans and campaigns. Instead, they teach how to grow organizations in a meaningful, organic way by engaging the communities around. And they use the word “passion” a lot. Continue reading

The unsavory taste of vodka ads

Vodka ads have turned sour lately. So maybe this starch-based beverage lacks the class of, say, vintage port wine. But a few weeks ago, Belvedere gave a new definition to bad taste when it tried to promote the hilarity of sexual assault via Twitter and Facebook:

This being 2012, most people were not amused at the sight of a horrified woman with a frat boy grabbing her from behind and the suggestive headline. Belvedere deleted the posts and apologized. Sort of. (“Okay, okay, sorry. Sorry you’re so sensitive!”)

Eventually, senior staff came forward with a more convincing apology and promised to donate to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

Belvedere isn’t the only one who gives a bad rep to vodkas.

This past Christmas, the self-proclaimed “quirky” Wodka put up a billboard  in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, home to a large Jewish population, promising straight up “Christmas quality, Hanukkah pricing.”

The Anti-Defamation League and others were offended by the anti-Semitic sentiment. Wodka removed the billboard and apologized. Continue reading