Friday, June 27, 2008

Wise Beyond Their Years

I've been reading Richard Edelman's blog for quite some time now, but I have to agree with Todd Defren that this may be Richard's best post ever. In The Old Lions Roar, Richard offers highlights from a luncheon organized by PR Week that brought together the founding fathers of the public relations profession: Harold Burson, Dan Edelman, David Finn, and Al Golin. He notes that all of them are octogenarians, with the exception of Al Golin who's a spry 78. I ask that you read Richard's post regarding the luncheon, but I have two stories I'd like to share.

First, back in the late 1990's I had the pleasure of meeting Al Golin. It was at a private party organized by Paul Holmes at what was then the CIPRA Awards (now SABRES). I owned a small PR agency at the time in Jacksonville, Florida. Among our clients was a McDonald's franchise group. That's all Mr. Golin needed to hear. We must have spent 30 minutes talking about PR, McDonald's and a host of other topics. He could have spent that time with much more important people, but seemed rather content just to chat with me. I was impressed by his intellectual generosity and his kindness of heart.

Second, and although not an octogenarian either, there's my experience with Dick Hyde. Now Dick has been with Hill & Knowlton for 45 years and counting. He's among the world's foremost crisis communications experts and one of the finest people I've ever met. I had the distinct pleasure of working with Dick on a project during my time at H&K. I shared several dinners with Dick on the west coast (though we were both based on the east coast), where it was just the two of us talking about business and about life. I consider it among the highlights of my career.

All these men share at least three common traits; First, they are passionate about their work; they love what they do. Second, they're extraordinary listeners; it's among the reasons they're so brilliant. Finally, you'll find that they are forward thinking; these men aren't stuck in the past, they are our window to the future.

It would appear Richard Edelman also shares these traits. I've never met the man, but his commitment to weekly (substantive) blog postings and responses to comments should offer us evidence enough that the apple didn't fall far from the tree.

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