Leadership in 2016


Editor’s Note: This is guest blog #1 of three that David Grossman will be contributing. Stay tuned for the others this spring.

What does effective leadership look like today?

Over the past several years, the sheer volume of high-profile business leadership and ethics scandals has dominated our headlines, causing scores of people to ask, “What’s wrong with business leadership today?” 

Some of the more recent scandals include Toyota concealing vital information about a car defect that caused cars to accelerate faster on their own, and GM replacing ignition switches that key company officials had known were faulty for years. Before that, there was money laundering at Enron, fraudulent accounting at WorldCom, securities fraud at Tyco, ethics and compliance violations throughout the pharmaceutical industry, and countless stories of executives inflating their resumes to present a more impressive public face.

That may leave young professionals wondering what it really takes to be a high-integrity, great leader in today’s business environment, when it seems so easy to stray from the right path. At the same time, there’s clearly a terrific need for great leadership that can elevate our business culture and transform organizations. 


Given this reality, I’m very curious to know what you think:

How do you define leadership today?

What does it take to be a great leader? What are the most important qualities that great leaders possess? Are there leaders you admire, and if so, who are they and what have they done to impress you? 

I welcome your thoughts on this important question. Send me your insights and I look forward to synthesizing your thoughts and providing my own answer to this question in my next blog. 

So, let’s dialogue! What does it really take to be a great leader today? 

David Head Shot High ResDavid Grossman, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA is both a teacher and student of effective leadership and communication and helps leaders drive productivity and get the results they want through authentic and courageous leadership communication. He’s a sought-after speaker and advisor to Fortune 500 leaders. A three-time author, David is CEO of The Grossman Group, an award-winning Chicago-based strategic leadership development and internal communication consultancy; clients include: Hill-Rom, Eastman Chemical Company, Kimberly-Clark, McDonald’s and Motel 6, to name a few. His newest book, “No Cape Needed: The Simplest, Smartest, Fastest Steps to Improve How You Communicate by Leaps and Bounds,” was published in the fall of 2015 and recently won the Pinnacle Book Award for the “Best in Business” category. In addition, David teaches Internal Engagement at Columbia University, in New York City. To connect with David you can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Accepting a Job Offer


The internet is full of great advice about how to find a job – where to look, how to approach a hiring manager, what to say in a perfect cover letter – but I’ve noticed that advice on how to identify the right job for you isn’t as abundant.

When you graduate from college, the goal is to find a job in your chosen field with decent compensation, benefits, and an enjoyable work environment. New PR pros often go the agency route to get their foot in the door and soak up as much experience as humanly possible.

After that first job or two, choosing a job gets a bit more sophisticated – at that point you’re at a critical turning point in your career that shapes your professional future. I’m currently happily employed in my second job, after happy employment at my first job, and have been lucky to land two fulfilling opportunities. With that said, I know the questions I would ask myself before accepting my next opportunity would be entirely different than those I asked in the past. Here are three things I would ask myself the third time around.

1. How does this role fit into my long-term vision for my career and life?

At a certain point, the ultimate goal of a job isn’t about getting you to the next job – it’s about getting you closer to your ultimate vision. A job should support your long-term professional AND personal development. It shouldn’t be shortsighted. Does this job offer the work-life balance you will need to fulfill personal goals? What about flexibility and the compensation or benefits needed to save for retirement or buy a house? Time off to support a side hustle? This is the time to understand what is most important to you, and find a job that supports you in that quest.

2. Do my values align with the values of management and my peers?

So important. The more your values and goals align with those of your team, the more motivated job-offer_lauren-legeryou will be to progress together. Carefully notice those who speak with you throughout the interview process. What kinds of questions are they asking? How do they treat you? What’s their body language? All of these things can provide insight into their values and work style. If you don’t feel like it’s a fit, it’s probably not, and you’ll likely run into roadblocks in the job as a result. Go with your gut impression of people and be sure to consider how it will affect your day to day at work. If you don’t consider values in the job search, you may find yourself working with people who are not likeminded, facing an uphill battle every day at work – not fun!

3. Is there an opportunity to contribute something big and make a real impact on the company?

If you’re like me, you quickly get bored doing your actual job as described in your job description. At this point, I’m looking for positions that give me flexibility to explore different areas of marketing, communication and business. This is something I didn’t realize I needed or liked, until I started at my current company. Although I was hired as a PR account executive, I started to become interested in social media and inbound marketing. I talked to our president and CEO about inbound, and she got super excited about it – so excited that she asked me to run with it, so we could offer it to our clients. I also ended up taking over social media work from our then manager of digital services. It turns out she was trying to move into a business development position, and was psyched that someone on our team had the passion and skill to take over for her.

Lesson learned – share your passions and just speak up and ask! Now my role is multifaceted, which can be hectic, but I wouldn’t trade it. I’ve learned so much in the past year, and more than anything, learned something about myself – I need to be constantly learning and challenging myself, and working hard to make a big impact on whatever company I’m a part of.

Managing your own career is a long-term process, but by asking yourself the right questions at the right stages of your career journey, you can ensure you’re setting yourself up for professional success and happiness at work.


As digital account executive at The Power Group, Lauren creates custom digital strategies, crafts tailored social media content, and manages social media accounts on behalf of clients. She also leads Power’s inbound marketing efforts, and is certified by HubSpot Academy in Inbound Methodology. Lauren’s expertise is in B2B and technology. She started at Power in the fall of 2014 as an account executive, and manages select PR accounts. (Connect with Lauren on LinkedIn and Twitter)

The Do’s and Don’ts for Making 2016 YOUR Year

I believe 2016 is going to be a big year. You know what I mean, how some years take much more space in your memory than others when you look back. It’s an overwhelming inkling, like the way you feel a sticky summer breeze and can just know it’s going to rain. Yes, 2016 is going to be a big year. It’s an election year for starters, but I think it’s something in our collective energy that’s buzzing for change. So as we take our early steps into 2016, here are some tips to be more intentional and make sure our efforts go toward making this new year bigger and better than those that came before it.


  1. Drink more coffee.

Kidding! Though new health standards say you can have up to five cups a day now. Which is great news for those of us who need a little java courage to tackle early morning segments. So, to good health!

1.5 Don’t check your email/social media pages until an hour after you wake up.

Email, Facebook statuses, news headlines all can have a major affect on your mood, which can alter the way you frame your day. Let yourself have a media-free hour and put the reigns back in your hands. Whether you chose to blast a pump-up morning mix or eat breakfast with your original thoughts. Use the time to touch base with your kick-ass self and start each day with your best foot forward.

  1. Write things down.

This is not just to make your 3rd grade cursive teacher feel validated. Studies show that handwriting notes facilitates memory, cognitive function and also helps with your creative process. (Click here or here for proof.) Maybe it has something to do with how writing in ink relinquishes your ability to backspace, making it a more permanent declaration. Whatever the reason, if handwriting my to-do list could ensure I don’t accidentally skip a thing, I’ll hand-sign myself up for that.

  1. Don’t be afraid of a phone call.

Speaking of going old-school… Humor me. Tap your phone and click on your recent calls; how many outgoing calls did you make besides those to your mother? It’s widely agreed that things like sentiment, sarcasm and even the contents of conversations get shortchanged through text, and yet 90% of the time when presented with both options, we chose the less efficient. Don’t be afraid to dial. An hour-long texting conversation can be communicated more personably over a ten-minute phone call. I mean this for both our personal and professional lives. PR is all about relations. It’s hard to have relations with a digital ghost.

  1. Put effort into “doing you.”   

The worst thing you can do – at any point in your life, not only at the start of the year – is allow yourself to feel comfortable coasting on autopilot. I understand life tends to throw a lot at us and sometimes all you have time for are “survival tactics:” sleep, work, eat, work, Netflix. And that’s fine. We’re at a unique stage in our lives where the effort we put in now can and will shape the course of our careers. But I think we need to stay mindful in making sure we don’t forget to build a life as well. We all have interests besides work that make us tick, and if you can’t remember what those are, go discover them! Be it painting, running, photography, cooking, traveling, guitar etc. Dedicate time for it and don’t lose touch of that part of you. It’ll likely be what sparks your next big idea into a full flame.

The new year can either be seen as another month, no better nor worse than that before it (besides the lack of holiday sweets delivered at your door), or as a wonderful opportunity; to evaluate what we’ve done well, what we maybe didn’t do so well at and set goals (not resolutions) to gradually build on for the months to come. I challenge you to look at 2016 as a blank canvas of opportunity. Choose one thing you’d like to accomplish, professionally or personally, and add a brushstroke each day. It’s going to be a “big year” after all, so don’t be afraid to choose bold colors.

gtzQK8HpMegan O’Neal graduated from UCLA in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, emphasizing in mass communications. She is currently the PR & Social Media Manager at Marketing Design Group and volunteers with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, freelancing for the public relations department. Connect with her on Twitter @megannenicole.

How to “Adult” 101: A Story as told by a Young PRofessional


As millennials step into the working world, we are met with a reality of what we expected and what exists. College was sometimes difficult and obtaining a job seemed impossible. Professors and mentors told you to intern, network, and apply for as many jobs as possible. Upon graduation, we all learn the truth. It really is all about who you know. Most of us will likely end up in a job at a place we interned or where a mentor or friend referenced us to get an interview. On top of that, the field we thought we wanted could turn out to be a dream or a nightmare.

Ultimately, we all have to remember the beauty of being a fresh, millennial 20-something. We have time to figure out our lives and what the future will look like. In 30 years, we will probably look back on life and the path we took will make sense, but right now it is confusing, frustrating, and downright exhausting; however, the silver lining does shine through our seemingly foggy future. We are young, energetic, excited, and honestly, really efficient. Below, my fellow 20-somethings can have a quick look at some young professional advice not told to you by other employees/mentors:

1. No one ever reads the full email you send, no matter how short

Make sure to say important information in the first sentence because your recipient will most likely not read to the bottom. You will probably ask the same question or request the same thing three or four times before it happens. Sometimes, I make my subject line the question and include nothing in the body if I need an answer ASAP and can’t call.

2. Never be afraid to ask

If you need to leave an hour or so early, your boss probably won’t mind. If you have under-utilized skills, your boss probably wants to know. When you have questions, ask. The worst you can be told is ‘no.’

3. Network anytime and anywhere

You never know who you are going to meet or where you’ll be. Always think ahead to how each person you meet could be THE next person you need to know.

4. Save your money while you’re single

Right now, you are able to save money and trust me your future will appreciate it. You don’t need to eat out every night and almost every bar has drink specials throughout the week. Plan accordingly and don’t spend money when you don’t need. For instance, pack you lunch. Imagine the savings!

5. Read all the documents you are given at your job and ask a friend if you don’t understand them

At my first job, I was given a huge packet on my health insurance. I have/had no idea what it all meant so I went to my grandparents to explain pieces, like my flexible spending plan.

6. Always be thinking of your next step

In PR, you can move through jobs at a much more rapid pace than your parents. It is okay! Stay fresh on the industry and move as you see fits your skills.


7. Take small vacations with friends

Since I said you need to save money, make time with friends really count by taking small vacations. Visit your friend in grad school or travel to a nearby winery or park. You don’t have to spend a lot to have a good experience.



Kiley Herndon is an energetic PR professional working and living in St. Louis. She is an avid reality TV watcher, 20th century book connoisseur, and lover of all things travel. Learning brings her unending joy and is always looking for opportunities to expand her knowledge and grow as a person and professional. Connect with her on Linkedin!

Thanking Your Mentors


Recently, I heard Ohio senator Nina Turner say something that really resonated with me: “The creator of this great universe has given us two hands: one to reach forward and one to reach back, lifting as we climb.” I can’t think of a better metaphor for the underrated super power of a mentor, someone who lifts up others while forging ahead. Mentors come in all kinds of packaging: friends, teachers, coaches, peers, bosses. Some mentors volunteer for the task, while others grow into the role naturally. In all cases, they’re invaluable for their perspective, advice, experience and confidence. As new professionals, many of us have benefited, and continue to rely on, relationships with our mentors. To all who have given the gift of mentorship, thank you!

Here’s what some of our members had to say about their mentors:



Alyssa Stafford is a member of PRSA Georgia and a communications specialist at Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta.  She serves on the New Professionals executive committee as the mentoring chair. Alyssa is a graduate of Agnes Scott College and the University of Georgia. Find her on LinkedIn or Twitter.