Panthers thumping aside, Charlotte’s seasonal activities welcomed four terrific days

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Doubling down on goodness at Christmas tree lot.

Having chosen to invest my time in a solid bike ride to enjoy the primo weather we kind of expect around here, I missed the entirety of the Panthers 40-20 debacle against Atlanta on Sunday. After the ride, something to eat, and making a few landing page adjustments, it was time to scoot to the Christmas tree sale.

I’ve watched the highlights, seen a lot of quotes with consistent sorrow-breast beating (this is ‘The Buckle on the Bible Belt’) about what is now a five game losing streak. Yes, Christian McCaffrey got his contribution in, with 11/58 yards on the ground and 11 catches for 82 yards. QB Kyle Allen was 28/41, 293 yards, TD/2 INT, and rushed for a TD late in the game. DJ Moore (4/81) continued closing in on a 1,000 yard receiving year (980), and TE Ian Thomas had his first five catches of the year, with Greg Olsen still in concussion protocols.

Four turnovers and allowing BIG plays (again) to the Falcons – Matt Ryan was 20/34 for 313 yards and two TDs – and the run defense that gave up 159 yards, Atlanta’s best production of the year, I’m willing to say I didn’t miss much. Now 5-8, it confirmed for many that not believing was legitimate, fire up the BBQ.

Owner David Tepper makes decision on Rivera

Ron Rivera is gone, and Perry Fewell didn’t wave any magic wands in his first game as the interim coach. Owner David Tepper is every bit as pragmatic about what comes next as the fans can ask for, which probably means hiring from outside the organization. Hold onto your PSLs.

Tepper rolled with the field operations group and facilities during Year One, but they’ve moved on from Wofford, have an indoor practice facility now, and Rivera got pretty much the standard amount of rope in 2019, considering a disastrous second half of 2018. The Cam Newton factor of losing #1 QB is factual, but lots of teams lose top personal (ask Houston about JJ Watts). Its still a Ws and Ls deal to be a coach anywhere.

“(Long time Charlotte Catholic Coach) Jim Odo said he won a championship because in OT he chose to defend in front of the student section. He felt it made a difference.” – Current Coach Mike Brodowicz

On the other hand, local favorite and two-time defending 3A champs, Charlotte Catholic won their game 56-49 in seven overtimes against Kings Mountain to advance to the State finals against first-timer Southern Nash (15-0). That it was 7-7 at the end of regulation is the amazing part, and there were a bunch of 4th down plays to test wills.

I can only imagine the juice running through that stadium, and you betcha, those young men felt the love. Friday night lights, baby!

For those considering getting off any Who Needs Cam? bandwagons that appeared when Kyle Allen led the Panthers to four straight wins with no INTs (he now has 12), fan-dom doesn’t mean blowing off the rest of the year now.  (Seahawks, and even if it rains, you’ll want to see Drew Brees…) Geez, if this was the NFC Least, the Panthers would only be a game out.

Tree selling, schmoozing, Beer Garden tent, singing, joyful kids

Business-wise, getting into December doesn’t change anything about my approach to writing gigs, and most ‘project resources’ know about end-of-year and future funding considerations. As military types might say, “Stay frosty,” meaning on the lookout for what makes a difference, and hang your professional stocking out there with expectations of being filled for the effort.

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Tree selling though, that is 100% satisfying, like Mom’s smooth gravy on mashed potatoes, or a slab of cinnamon-y apple pie. If you never ran away from siblings among the trees (lots of snowballs in upstate NY) while looking for one to cut down, may your kids enjoy the search for bigger or smaller or fatter anywhere you decide to look.

This year our Men’s Club had an activity tent that included karaoke, brots, and some simple – a hole drilled in cut-off tree bottoms with a twig of Frazier insert – crafts we’ll undoubtedly keep going in the future.

That a handful of guys who hadn’t really been part of club activities before showed up was an extra goodness, with the genuine good will generated while talking to customers and tying trees onto rooftops being priceless.

At a time when tensions around the world seem wound pretty tight, especially our political situation that has kept center stage, unplugging from that to watch the Panthers get clobbered to the point of a captain apologizing for it, what still matters is the spirit of the season. Sometimes its still legit to walk away from miserable others who might otherwise suck the joy from a candy cane.

Congrats to Charlotte Catholic, “bless their hearts” for the Panthers from the locals, and since its always the thought that counts, especially two weeks from Christmas, think of me if the opportunity arises.

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Glenn Shorkey – Creative eDitorial Talents Enterprises 
(704) 502-9947

“Real Writers” still best option, AI or 1 million chimps on computers creativity aside

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Artificial intelligence and computers can do amazing things based on previous analysis, but can they imagine a perfect David without that?

After being fed a trillion-gazillion bytes of previous human blood, sweat, and tears involved in artwork or literature, Artificial Intelligence is becoming/has begun to be judged capable of original production.  Professionally speaking, that sounds more reasonable than a million (or 10 million?) chimpanzees on keyboards knocking out even a couple verses of Bill Shakespeare-worthy prose by accident.

At the current time, I’m a way better writing alternative.

Without going deeply into whether its a good idea or not, the AI future has been coming almost 70 years,  and the chimps haven’t produced anything noteworthy.  Having read on LinkedIn about AI “knowing” how to make hiring decisions though, that’s a belief I can’t get on board with.

Having a “presence” – something that might push a magic button for a potential employer of my talents – and result in a tah dah! moment HAS to be better, because its worked that way before. Many sites still don’t recognize MSOffice includes Word, or journalism as somehow lacking “media and communications.”

Case in point, the recently concluded series SUITS.

Could the Zen of Harvey Specter and Mike Ross coming together on the basis of – well, a busted drug deal – and Mike’s statistical memory out-dueling Harvey’s ego on trivia happen with AI? I think not.

Far above the vast area between accidental genius and synthesized, analytical material becoming heart-breaking romance, discovering the answer to someone’s pain about any number of factors is what INTERVIEWING is about, and where writers of all stripes wear the sales hat.

Sports writing is easier than CBD content creation

Of course there are the numbers, the stats, the win-loss conclusion and opinions of the result, but sports have their own voice, and quotes are usually the most compelling part. If we have or haven’t seen the event, can you appreciate how a journalist presents it, accurately and colorfully?

That’s part of what interviewing does for “client voice.” Putting them together, with the proliferation of websites and blogs that require on-going production, is what long-form informational blogging has become.  Although not as direct as words from a winning coach, corporate voice is THE voice.

From high school journalism on, the need to set the hook with readers in the first paragraph was considered paramount. Now its the click value of the headline, because people scan vs. read.

Relative to value, while Charlotte pays above the national rates (as reported by Indeed, Glassdoor, Payscale), its often a case of job title-category being a determinant.

Copy writers at $26.38/hr, content writers,  and writers generally are close to $50k (Payscale says $47k is 10% above national avg., Glassdoor pegs avg. @ $55k), while content creation, including editors and social media types, are in the middle-upper teens per hour. Indeed puts these North Carolina rates at 15% below national averages.

Obviously there are ranges.  ‘Freelancers’ is a relative term ($22.46/hr., Payscale), tutors average $23/hr. (I usually bill at $30) and technical writers lead the overall pack at $32/hour. While descriptions for all have terms in common (white papers, blogs, SEO), writers seem to involve more interfacing with other creatives. Content creation is often  list-cicles or amalgamated research and rehashing as a group effort, with the focus on Google positioning.

*Everyone* wants copy/blogs/thought leadership that “meets and exceeds customer expectations.”

Technical Writing

“Thought Leadership” style has become a strong part of long-form informational blogging, and contrasting two previous projects with a recent sketchy client description highlights the importance of interviewing.

According to a Thumbtack lead, the client had an ESL (English Second Language) situation, and to his credit, knew he needed some expertise to make a business proposal sound right.

In hearing the project was “between 2,000-10,000 words” represented an awful lot of territory to offer overall pricing. Informing the client my blogs are often 1200-1500 words, so 10,000 was a lot, is a concrete example of both parties knowing what a project entails. Whether this business plan was going to include enough budget for technical writing was also a consideration.

jensenprocedOn the other hand, writing procedures for Parts Ordering and Returns was for “guys in the pits” using industrial laundry equipment (driers, folders, belted delivery systems, timing), not front office people. The primary point was well-defined, especially how plucking a part off a machine and reading the number was actually the third best option when ordering.

Two pages of specific information only took 945 words, and fact it included addressing issue of returns, so extra junk didn’t clog up the back dock area, was gravy.

Interviews as sales calls

Because client-facing verbal understanding is at the core of all successful work interactions, my mantra is that the Q&A to be most effective is always about determining those factors most important to clients, not an interrogation. Good information makes for better decisions.

During several other career stages, interviews were more accurately sales calls, where I was providing the information aspect, and how other people reacted was a measurable outcome.  “Interviewing” with the lawyer of someone whose property had a billboard I represented was another slice of interpretation – most would consider that “negotiation” though.

In scholastic fundraising, there was essentially 40 minutes to build rapport, present information and possibilities, (hopefully) get the green lights and signature that meant putting it on a calendar.  Most interviews focused on “fixing” a sponsor’s group problem in tough economic times.

That (fix some pain) remains the central theme for all kind of ‘gigs’ now, and Writers understand that every RFP (request for proposal) type of content we send should  be intended as a statement of what we bring to the table.

Without denigrating ‘foreign competition’ on the content front – because getting ideas across in writing is not bound by location or time zones – language differences when I’m just trying to make a point with outsourced service operations are multiplied in complexity when clarifying a corporate tone or voice.

ESL clients require extra attention, and grammatically and professionally, it still seems like some corporate material has been put through a Google translator called “English” that comes off as stilted in “American.” That might be where AI can makes inroads.

Feeling More Professional Just Because of the Effort

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Four days, and feeling ready for what comes on Monday.

Two months after spreading the news at my 40th reunion that real estate was where my future efforts would be directed upon returning to Charlotte, NC the Reality of Commitment comes down to four days of almost continuous reading and testing to prep for a more-important-to-my-future test than I’ve taken in MANY years. A 75% (two tries if necessary) qualifies for the State exam.

After watching multiple episodes of ‘Friday Night Lights’ with Blackhawk-flying, ‘promotable-to-captain’ nephew, Curtiss, and fiancee (Stephanie) during my reunion over Columbus Day weekend, the Permian Panthers “Goin’ to  States!” mantra has been locked in as my Now.

FOCUS isn’t optional

Half-way through this month of two full days (79 total hours) a week in class and mucho hours reading/discussion, online testing, trying to fulfill a second goal of submitting 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo campaign didn’t make the cut as a priority.

Its worth mentioning that, because while tarot cards are essential to major decisions made by my main character, Marlena (the Magnificent) Victoria Christie, declining to commit time to writing – an obvious, significant professional factor – was an All-In! line in the sand.  Because school and studying required all possible focus, the call had to be made.

That’s a straight-up fact, recognizing actions go with what your #1 focus is. Success is still earned, and yes, ‘deserved’ is a decent clarifier.

My real estate class has about 80 people, and being at the same level of focus with that many articulate people, its been enlightening. At *NO* point is anyone I’ve talked to been taking things lightly. The instructor put an absolutely True point on the Next we’re all looking at with all the studying/long reading assignments: “You are all trying to become professionals– conduct yourselves accordingly.”

 I’ll add that every organization or ‘system’ I’ve worked with demands results along a scale of importance: High rewards, you gotta want ’em, then go earn ’em –Amen. And Luck,  that usually follows effort.

Time-wise, it’s been a short term investment:  Started October 28, final on December 7. Exceptionally strong potential results for a short term commitment,  and there didn’t seem to be any lack of determination in most individuals; nobody expects a ’15-minute-great abs!’-type cheat that aces tests, y’know? North Carolina has some rules and gotta do’s regarding real estate, and part of that is definitely 79 hours. Being licensed as a *professional* going into 2016 is a specific goal, so this weekend is about achievement. How much-how far with this weekend’s effort-commitment means points on Monday.

The world makes way for…you know the deal, and there isn’t a WINNER! type organization worth its mantra that doesn’t push that button somehow.

There were regular opportunities to present myself during  lunch ‘n learns with representatives of specific firms, including two  I’d previously completed assessments with. Certain results from those clearly affirmed my inner attitudes and aptitudes, then it took a ‘put it on the credit card’ action  to qualify for this potential professional Next.

Don’t ever imagine anything happens without actions like investing in yourself. I’ll let you know the results soon. (Woot woot! Passed State test first try! Next comes paying all the fees…)

As a small extra, this piece written after the Panthers big win in Dallas was/is pretty good stuff. At Thanksgiving we were 11-0, looking for more in weeks to come. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/yes-purrr-fect-11-0-panthers-show-dallas-what-big-d-glenn/edit