What is your story?by Terrie Ard on July 30, 2009
Today I had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with one of the most genuine, interesting people I have ever met. The Florida Public Relations Association Capital Chapter hosted Tom Preston, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security, as the moderator of our crisis communications workshop. This workshop was informative with a panel of who’s who in law enforcement and communications in Florida: Scott McAllister, Deputy Homeland Security Advisor, Florida Department of Law Enforcement; Gwen Keenan, Chief of the Bureau of Preparedness, Florida Division of Emergency Management; David McCranie, Public Information Officer, Tallahassee Police Department; Mike Vasilinda, CEO, Capital News Service and Mike Vasilinda Productions; Debbie Carver, BS, EMTP, CRT, HCP, CHEP, Emergency Management Program Manager for Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare.
Although the workshop provided great professional development, it was really the one-on-one time I got with Tom this afternoon that taught me the most. Tom is the type of person that never disappoints and each time I hear him talk I learn something new. Let me start with a little background about Tom. Tom’s military, government and other experiences in counterterrorism span 51 years. They have taken him worldwide to interdict violent groups threatening assassinations, mass destruction and disruptions of major events. His contributions in the field counterterrorism are numerous and impressive.
I could sit for hours and listen to Tom’s experiences and insights about life. He shared specific stories about some of his clients and experiences in counterterrorism. As I was listening intently to these stories I quickly realized that Tom’s 51 years of professional experience tells a carefully woven story of his life. It made me think about what my story will be 20, 30, 40 years from now. What can I teach the next generation? How will I leave a legacy? How will I contribute to the betterment of society? I was also reminded today that in addition to formal training, so much of what we do in communications, specifically crisis communications, is about understanding people and their behavior, having good gut instinct and just being plain street smart.
So, I will pass on what Tom opened my eyes to today and ask you to stop for a moment and think about life. Yes, that thing that passes us by each day because we are in such a rush, such a routine, busy multitasking all of the demands. Take a moment and give this some thought: What will your story be 10, 20, even 40 years from now?