Interest and Enthusiasm in the Unknown

July 21st, 2011

Hello all,

It’s mid-July and I’ve been with Welland Laike for two months. Thankfully, the productivity I wrote about in my first post continues unabated—I don’t think I’ve ever written so many words in a two month time span. (Nothing helps spur productivity like a debilitating heat wave. It doesn’t leave one with many other options!)

Now, I’ve always had a very specific definition on what makes something, anything, a quality item. Whether it’s a documentary, a book, or in my case, a writing assignment, the mark of something good is the creation of an interest or curiosity in a subject where previously there wasn’t one. For me, that’s happened in spades with my work at Welland Laike. If you had asked me before I started how I felt about tort reform, I would have given you a blank stare and shrugged my shoulders. Now I have a strong opinion, and a well-researched case to back it up. Believing in what you’re writing is a necessity.

But it doesn’t just end there. The whole world of the civil justice system opened up to me and intrigued me in a way I never imagined when I started two months ago. Sometimes, “you learn something new every day” transcends cliché and has real meaning.

Lucas McMillan,
The (not-so-new) intern

The Musings of a New Intern

June 13th, 2011

On May 14th, I graduated from Drake University with a four-year degree in Magazine journalism. Two days later, I started at Welland Laike Communication. I really didn’t know what to expect. After all, public relations writing is the opposite of what I had spent four years studying: magazine editorial can be long, windy and self-indulgent while PR writing is concise, razor sharp and message-oriented. I had some experience in the marketing department at Meredith Corporation, but I feared that the adjustment, both in culture and writing style, would be a rocky one.

Fortunately, I was dead wrong on both counts. In big corporate environments, it’s all too easy to fade into the wallpaper, but at Welland Laike that is quite literally impossible¬ — it’s just me and my boss Steve Miller in a lime-colored attic loft, collaborating closely. Being the only intern — and the only employee on site — creates a lot of responsibility, but I welcome the challenge. The whole point of an internship is to gain as much tangible experience as possible, and I’m finding it in spades at Welland Laike.

In my first couple weeks on the job, I’ve written several newsletter drafts for You Should Know, worked on the podcast’s website and even driven up to Minnesota for a couple of days with Steve to attend meetings. Whew. I didn’t do that much in the entirety of my previous internship, let alone in two weeks!

It’s been a whirlwind beginning, but as I’m settling in I look forward to tackling even bigger and more diverse projects. Check back from time to time to see what I’m up to!

Lucas McMillan
Recent college grad, Welland Laike intern, all-around whiz

The Holman Expectation Curve

September 17th, 2010

Project fantasy versus reality

By Steve Miller

Nothing is more edifying than discovering that something you’ve been doing all along in business is actually what they are teaching in school. Take the Holman Expectation Curve, presented recently in the management class I’m taking via the communication master’s program at Drake. Simply put, projects all look like slam dunk winners at the outset and score high on the fantasy scale. But over time reality takes hold and meets fantasy at the Oh My God (OMG) moment when we realize our expectations were unrealistic. The Come to Jesus (CTJ) meeting soon follows where the project is either put back on track, re-calibrated, or canceled. Ouch!

So our prof asked us how we might expedite the occurrence of the OMG moment earlier in a project to increase the likelihood of success. Here’s my thought:

Lets start with “been there, done that.” Nothing, in my mind, replaces experience and gut instinct when it comes to plotting out a successful strategy to meet a business challenge or opportunity. Then I’m with James Lewis, author of Project Planning, Scheduling & Control, when he insists that we develop a shared definition, mission and vision for the project before we proceed. This demands a positive atmosphere for discussion, creativity, disagreement and agreement right from the start. Finally, we should always insist on preparing a good business case on paper before we launch any project. Nothing sobers up a marketing team faster than memorializing a real timeline, real budget estimates, and real risks and assumptions.

My last bit of advice: pass around a copy of the Holman Expectations Curve at the start of every meeting on a new project! Cheers!