After a half century in the communications consulting business (and writing a newspaper column for over 30 years), Charles Reilly offers our clients and friends some reflections based on the lessons of his life. We hope they will be of value to you, and sometimes make you smile along the way.
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With personal and professional best wishes...
and women serving in the military have a special bond that ties them together
even after they put their uniforms aside. There is another bonding in our
country which embraces young people, parents and grandparents as well as
relatives and friends – to wit, the vast audience who attend graduation
are rightful recognitions of past accomplishment as well as an exciting first
page for a new chapter in the book of life. Each ceremony combines sighs of
relief from those who have passed their finals with parental boasting about
their offspring. There are other players involved
the moment of course, particularly the teachers who have nurtured the young men
and women who will now be moving on. Then there are the grandparents (many
still trying to figure out where the time went when their own kids, not their
grandkids, were gracing the graduation stage) relatives, friends and certainly
the speaker of the day. It is no easy thing to provide guidance and inspiration
to restless spirits chomping at the bit for the post-ceremony parties. It is
also a lifelong lesson for graduates – don’t believe any speaker who says
he/she “will just take a few minutes.” We audience veterans know those “few
minutes” can stretch from here to eternity.
are surely electrifying speakers taking the podium at graduation day ceremonies
around the world, but the fact is they are few and far between.Most speakers are well meaning ladies and
gentlemen who having drawn the assignment are doggedly determined to do the
best they can. Good for them! If you
have to speak at a graduation, here’s a tip: Keep it short. Like most
sermons or homilies in church, shorter is always better, and shorter than short
will make you king or queen for the day. Nobody will remember what you are
going to say anyway, but they will remember you FOREVER if you make them suffer
unreasonably. It was true this time round for Bryce, Kelly and Carolyn just as
it was for you, for me, for everyone else.
people today are conditioned to being congratulated for everything. From
kindergarten on up, they receive a prize for something, even just being there.
So if you are going for the whole package, that is both the awards and diploma
events, be prepared for a very long day.
among our ceremonies this time round were prep school graduations. I’m old
school when it comes to graduations – caps and gowns for one and all because they
are great equalizers. There is greater leeway with prep school attire however –
and greater adventure for parents. The sea of white dresses for the young women
range from Snow White to near-Hooters.And many a parent/mother is getting an unnerving preview that the kid
who almost drove her crazy is now a women not too far removed from being a bride.As for the young men, nothing much has
changed – the traditional blue blazer, the knotted tie askew, pants cascading
down around the ankles.One soul behind
me murmured “for $40,500 a pop, he could at least have combed his hair.”
well, not to worry, it is their world now, not ours.It will all work out in the end.
like some romances, are gone with the dawn of the day. Other melodies linger on
forever just like the special women we associate them with.
The song “Thank Heaven for Little Girls,” introduced by the late Maurice
Chevalier in the motion picture “Gigi,” is one such. The truth is little girls
do in fact “grow up in a most delightful way.” The challenge is to steer them
successfully through their tweens and high-school dating. Sons are widely
considered gifts from God, but don’t you think all babies are?
Men pray for a son so that a father and a younger version of himself can go out
on the front lawn to throw a football around. So here’s to all of us who have
sons, and beyond that to our sons’ sons. Now hold your breath, dear reader, for
I have to attempt a transition in the paragraphs that follow.
Let’s not quibble about whether you are blessed more or less by the sex of your
offspring. Early on my little Susan knew how to run deep then cut to snag a
pass. She was my athletic delight right up to the very moment when Susan and
her pal, Jean Scribner, decided that they were going to be “girls.”
So endeth the lesson of my football-on-the-lawn drills.
Short of walking to an electric chair the most challenging 50-yard stroll in
the world is a father’s trip down the aisle to the wedding altar with his
daughter on his arm. This trail of tears is made worse by the certain knowledge
that there is not a man on the face of the earth good enough for Daddy’s Little
The single saving grace is the near certain knowledge that your departing
daughter will remain closer to your side of the family than to his.
The bond between mother and daughter is unbreakable and through no effort of
his own a father gains because of this. As for newly wedded sons, we send them
off with a sense of loss combined with comedy and sympathy because he will be
spending most of his time with them.
Little girls do grow up in most amazing ways for in time they become young
mothers and present us with that wonder of wonders, grandchildren. Happily, all
the while daughters retain an inner compass that keeps steering them back to
check on Daddy.
smoke, smoke that cigarette…” goes the song written by Merle Travis for the
country singer Tex Williams.Besides saving
Williams’ waning career, the number went on to huge success on the charts and
remains a catchy chorus to this very day. Now thanks to televised baseball
games smoking has been replaced by spitting.It’s just a question of time before another song is born, but how to
turn “spit, spit, spit” into a memorable hit?
one can challenge the fact that television coverage of baseball games has
brought what was formerly considered a nasty and illegal habit right into our
living rooms every time the batter is up. I was reminded of how far we have
slipped as a society during the last division playoffs when a woman seated
nearby voiced what most of us keep unspoken: ”Why do they have to spit ALL the
time?” Given the multiple shots of players spitting and the millions watching
them do it, this disgusting habit is well on its way to becoming the new
national pastime. It is surely much more of a macho habit than a physical
are serious ramifications here, not the least of which is endangering the health
of players themselves.We are
increasingly aware of infectious disease. People are being urged to cough or
sneeze into their own arms, wash their hands frequently and consider carefully
if they want to shake hands with every single soul they meet. I understand that
the dugouts for the teams are never going to be confused with Sanitary Central
but the accumulated spittle in small areas constitute danger zones. One can
reasonably assume that some players are looking to be out of the dugout and
into the game just to escape puddles of spit. Youngsters mimicking their
baseball heroes are certainly being ill served. All you have to do is watch
Little League games where copycat spitting has become routine.
there is a bright side to this epidemic it is decreased use of big wads of
tobacco held in the check. There are one or two player holdouts of course but
the danger of tongue and cheek cancer caused by chewing tobacco has surely
lessened. Nowadays there are substitute cheek-fillers like bubble gum. We’ll
settle for team managers popping bubbles if they’ll keep our favorite teams
competitive year after year, but it’s still an odd sight seeing grownups
imitating a little kid’s habit. Sunflower seeds are another ballplayer spitting
choice. The flying debris reminds us of the finches sitting on our backyard
feeder flicking birdseed shells to grateful squirrels gathered below. Even with
all this spitting and the frequent “equipment adjustments” players make while
they are on camera, the game of baseball may still live on as our national
sport. But as a school of good example? NOT.
next year we will see a change, but I don’t think so for bad habits are very
hard to break.The answer may lie in
strategically placing attractive spittoons in the dugout and around the