Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Whack on the Side of the Head Wednesday: Kohr of the Matter

Announcements at the end.

I think Ray will be the focus of our attention today.  He did, after all, just join our community on Monday and somehow I want to make sure our friend - and community mascot - does not fade into the woodwork without first reaching his potential.

To be honest, I gave birth to Ray without really having a plan for him.  Peggy was one of the generous readers who contacted me weeks ago, when we were trying to decide on a blog "logo" of sorts.  That's when she shared her vision that the light bulb logo could also be a character.  She suggested the character have different faces and looks depending on what creative idea he was pitching. For example, shedding light on back to school fun? How about Ray with a ruler in his hand?  Halloween ideas?  Picture Ray with a cape and a plastic pumpkin in hand.  Did someone say National Ice Cream Month?  By all means... Ray licking a triple scoop ice cream cone... with sprinkles on top.

See... I recognize the "fun factor" of Ray engaging with our activities.  I'm just not sure where, when, or how.  In other words... how is Ray employed?  Other than in a small and periodic order of cards from me to Peggy - which I would use to write notes to readers - how do people know about Ray?

If you've ever worked with me, you know I have a philosophical problem hiring someone or recruiting a student leader without first having a well thought out - and even robust - position description.  In the case of Ray, I got ahead of myself.  One day he was a sketch on a folded piece of paper and by Monday we were "tugging and warring" over a name worthy of his obvious charm and wit.

This is job for von Oech and the collective creativity of highlowaha readers.  Here's the whack...

Look to the Past.  History is loaded with creative analogies.  Napoleon marching on Moscow is really just project management.  Mao waging guerrilla warfare is like launching an ad campaign.  Pick a culture from the past.  How would someone from that culture deal with your issue?  How about from your own personal history?  What were you doing ten years ago that might be useful to you now.  What ideas from history can you apply to a current project?

I just took a ten minute pause to dig out my calendar from 1999, thinking it would at least be fun to take a look at what I was doing.  Again, the historian in me keeps my calendars... I guess, specifically for reasons such as this.  PANIC... My 1999 calendar is the ONE year between 1989 and 2008 that I do not have!  It's the year I got married.  Where could it be?  This is a whole different dilemma for another day and not anything you need to worry about.  I will try to move on with today's post, but know I am completely preoccupied with where my 1999 calendar could be.  It' the kind of thing Prime Time or 48 Hours would have a field day with if I ever showed up missing.

How about a quick look at 1998 and 2000.  In 1998, the only thing I had listed on my calendar for this day (July 23) was the Dedman Center Seminar Room.  This was a meeting location on SMU's campus and we were meeting to talk about departmental assessment efforts (isn't it nice to know somethings never change?).  The day before appeared much more fun.  I went to a prop store with student leaders to identify which props we would incorporate into our week of orientation events.  I also had a Mustang Corral meeting, a meeting with three student leaders about PR initiatives, and dinner plans with a friend to talk about the book, Exploring Leadership.  

The year 2000 was even more fun.  On this day in the year 2000 I was visiting family in New York.  Still, I was ambitious.  My to-do list for this day read as such:  Call graduate school, organize honeymoon pictures (married in November), call Crystal and Meaghan, plan training session for Emory (interestingly enough, about creative programming), and get good-bye gift for Carolyn.

Aha... nothing to be garnered from any of that.  Fun, nonetheless.  Where, by the way, is my 1999 calendar?!?!

Instead I decide to consult the History Channel web site for an idea from history.  The website immediately presents me with a section titled, "Today in History." Perfect.  This is exactly what I need.  Should I go with Today's Lead Feature (Ms. America Resigns)?   Hmmmm... the fate of Ray's future rests in my decision.  No, not random enough.  Not to mention it would make Ray's career pretty short lived.  I will close my eyes and run the cursor over the menu on the left.  Where ever it lands, that's where I'll go.  The choices... General Interest, American Revolution, Automotive, Civil War, Cold War, Crime, Disaster, Entertainment, Literary, Old West, Presidential, Sports, Vietnam War, Wall Street, World War I, and World War II.  

Here goes...

Old West!  Is this a joke or is this fated because this city girl is now living in Texas?  I choose to view it as an omen.  Onwards and upwards.  The story is titled, "Montana Rancher Conrad Kohr Dies."  The story is five short paragraphs, but still I'll summarize in an effort to save some time.
  • Conrad Kohr was a native of Denmark
  • He immigrated to the United States in 1850 hoping to get in on the whole gold/silver mining thing.  He was 15 at the time.
  • Only mildly successful.  Twelve years later he moved on in pursuit of other gold and silver deposits found in Montana.  Now 27 years old.
  • He quickly realized he could make more feeding the miners than he could mining.  Kohr becomes a butcher.
  • Soon after becoming a butcher, Kohr decides being a cattlemen is even more lucrative than being a butcher, so he traveled around the territory purchasing prime animals and then processing them.
  • Within two years, he set even higher visions.  Rather than simply being the butcher or even the cattleman, Kohr decided to shift his business to the supply side of things.  He ventured into becoming a rancher.  He was the only major rancher for quite some time.  Consequently, his business boomed as the state of Montana grew.  He was the largest cattle rancher in Montana for several decades.
  • Took wealth and turned it into political power.
  • Elected to Legislature in 1885 
  • Became state senator in 1902
  • In the end, Kohr was celebrated as a great pioneer in Montana's history.
  • Kohr died in 1920 (same year Tug of War was last competed in as an Olympic sport).
So the real question?  Where is my 1999 calendar and what ideas from Kohr's history can we apply to Ray Wattson?

If you simply can't get excited about Conrad Kohr, then feel free to reflect on some other event in history... even your own.

The lines are open...

  • Four very able volunteers spoke up yesterday interested in working on our highlowaha Christmas project.  Julie, Maureen, Anonymous (I think I know who you are), and Brian if you are still interested send me an email with the rest of your contact information (phone numbers and emails) and I will assure each of you has the others information.  Julie will be my primary contact person, as it was her thoughtful idea.
Signing off until tomorrow...

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