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The Root of the Brand: Quiksilver at the Consumer Level

Well I’m back home now in Orlando, home for the winter break. I was cleaning my room today, and realized that I have a TON of Quiksilver things: everything from stickers to hats to shirts, keychains, buttons, pens… it’s crazy. And all of this was from before my internship. So what is it about this company? What makes Quiksilver so great that, for the last seven years, I have bled Mountain and Wave?

That’s it. It’s the mountain and the wave. It’s what the brand stands for; what the company was founded upon, and its continuing commitment to the board sports lifestyle. It’s a family. It’s chill. It’s adventurous. It’s innovative, creative and fun. Think about it: a couple of guys wanted to do what they love, so they made some technical boardies — the first of their kind — and sold them to surf shops. The business took off, and they made an incredible business out of their passion. And it turned into the first corporation of its kind — the leader in action sports. Quiksilver continues to innovate. At its roots, it is made up of all of us — a family of action sports enthusiasts.

This week, I started working at the Quiksilver retail store at the Florida Mall. I wanted to spread the stoke that is Quiksilver. But now, something that I am learning is the retail side of the business. No matter the brand — no matter how genuine, real, exciting, creative, innovate or inspiring the brand is — it cannot be successful if it is not successful at the retail end. And just like Alan Greene and John Law did over 40 years ago, I am selling a product. It’s a brand I believe in. It’s a brand I truly believe is at the forefront of the industry. So now, rather than learning from the corporate end — all the marketing meetings, the brand book, the direct to market plan, new design concepts — I am learning direct at the consumer level. I am meeting the people that Quiksilver markets to, the people that Quiksilver listens to. I am working directly with the people that drive the business of the industry. It’s an exciting place to be.

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Start living the dream today. Don’t wait.

It is Monday. I take my last exam of the semester today — Survey of Leadership Readings. All that’s left is to finish my paper for Cultural Studies of Pop Arts, in which I examine techniques of such films as Sunset Boulevard, Midnight Cowboy and Do the Right Thing. I’ll talk more about my experiences in these classes later. Right now, I have one thing to write: the future is now.

We all have the power to be the person we want to be. It is up to me. Only I have the power to decide who I am, what I value and how I will live. It is something we do everyday of our lives. So, in the spirit of the coming New Year, think: I don’t have to wait for 2010 for new year’s resolutions. I can start now. The future is now.

Rather than wait for the spring semester to roll around, I started working out again. What does it matter if I don’t know my schedule over the winter break? There is no better time than the present. Start living the dream today. Don’t wait.

Be Thankful. Serve Others. Build Relationship.

Thanksgiving was a few days ago. Once again, we had family over to our house for the usual Thanksgiving meal: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. It was an enjoyable — and filling — time. But something that I have had more time to think about in the last few days: how grateful I am for relationships, and the value of relationships in our lives.

I also found it interesting a topic that kept coming up in church today. Do you know what Christianity and public relations have in common? Relationship. They both place relationship of utmost importance. Christianity is about a relationship with God, talking to him on a daily level, seeking guidance and being fulfilled with His love and mercy. Public relations is about a relationship with people, each of us talking and sharing. We want to feel included, loved and encouraged.

So, as you end your weekend, don’t let the message of Thanksgiving pass you by. Be thankful for the relationships in your life. Think about the ones you would like to build. It is this time of year that makes me reflect on the people in my life. I think, how can I serve them better? How can I love these people more? Share the power of God’s love? How can I encourage, motivate and give hope?

End of the One-Trick Pony

With the rise of new online medias, journalists today are expected to be able to craft their message into every outlet possible. Not only do they need the skills to write a 10-inch piece for newspaper, they need to know how to translate this story into RSS feeds, Twitter posts, Facebook updates and video blogs.

It is an expectation that asks a lot from the few. The journalist that once wrote solely for print is now expected to adapt their story for the various online media channels. And with today’s depressed economy – Florida’s unemployment rate now over 11 percent – companies are “restructuring” their staff. By “restructuring,” I mean laying off everybody that cannot do the job of five.

If you do not have all these skills, you will be unemployed, or at least less competitive in today’s job market. It is interesting to see these changes taking place, and it is somewhat scary. The mass media is essentially being placed into the hands of anyone. The consumer is picking and choosing what information they want to receive. And Google is attempting to control access to all of this information.

It is a changing world, and a changing world of journalism. But with this change, comes great possibilities. Many of these new media outlets are very useful, but media changes so fast that it can be hard to understand how to deal with the changes. Still, there is definitely no stopping it now.

In this competitive job market – where I need to know how to design a blog, report and upload video feeds, manage websites – I find it very exciting, and something that I already have some experience with. I have always been interested in design. I like to tell stories. I like to write. By possessing the knowledge, understanding the tools, I can share my story and the story of others more effectively.

The era of the one-trick pony is over. To stay competitive, you better have more tricks up your sleeve! For me, I already have some experience recording a podcast, embedding video into my own website and doing design work. I understand the importance of it, but I am also excited about it. It is not something I have to do to get a job. It is something I like to do. I like learning new things and having an understanding of many different tasks.

The Perspective of Possibility, The Realization of Opportunity

The context of this journal: If it doesn’t break your heart, it isn’t love. If it doesn’t beak your heart it’s not enough.1

I’ve read these books before. I’ve read how to think positive, how to recognize who is in my circle of influence, how to empower, how to listen. But as I read this portion of The Art of Possibility, I listened with new perspective. With fresh eyes and an open mind, I listened to Rosamund and Benjamin Zander.

Presence without resistance: Understand what is, and don’t fight it, don’t resist it. Instead of combating it, look at the situation with a new perspective, through new glasses. Every situation has the potential for positive growth. It’s all in how we perceive the situation.

“Life is a story… all of life comes to us in narrative form; it’s a story we tell.” If we know that this is, then what can we do to tell a story that will encourage? To tell a story that will inspire, motive, give strength and spread truth?

It is up to us to be a conduit for that positive energy. It is up to us to look at life with this perspective, the perspective of opportunity, the belief in possibility.

Rosamund Zander writes: “The more attention you shine on a particular subject, the more evidence of it will grow.” She likens attention to light, air and water: “Shine attention on obstacles and problems and they multiply lavishly.”

It is when we view these obstacles as hazards – as challenges to overcome – in which we cease to be a conduit for positive energy. We cease to look at these situations with a perspective of possibility. Instead, let’s look at them as opportunities, as chances to make something great.

I am an optimist. I like to see the positive in life’s situations. But many people have often interpreted me as a dreamer, one that cannot accept reality. Well, in fact, I am recognizing reality. I am recognizing what is, the clear possibility of a situation. Rosamund Zander says, “Those of us who think of the possibility are not dreamers ignoring reality, we see the potential in what is real.” See the glass half full, she says, is a measure of the physical reality under discussion.  It’s all in the framework in which we perceive a situation.

“Our universe is alive with sparks. We have at our fingertips an infinite capacity to light a spark of possibility. Passion, rather than fear, is the igniting force.” Possibility exists in every situation – in all of life’s challenges. Look at life through a framework of hope, a framework of opportunity. And be a conduit for this hope. Inspire. We will break; we will fall. But this means one thing, one thing that is very encouraging, very inspiring: love is here.

1Lyrics, Switchfoot: “Yet,” from the album Hello Hurricane.

Love. Hope. Kindness. It’s what we need.

Love. Hope. Kindness.

Maybe it has been cliched by numerous organizations in an attempt for “social responsibility.” Or they are simply doing the “PR thing.” But these are the essential qualities that all of us seek out in life. Authentic love: to share in genuine, authentic love. We need hope, hope in the face of adversity, in the face of conflict, in the face of anger. We need kindness.

These are the sounds of life, the melody that inspires. This is what motivates, encourages, empowers. This is what pushes us forward, what keeps us holding on. We break. We fall. But with love, with hope and with kindness — we find our way again. We find the courage and the hope to not only press on, but to rise above, to be born anew. It is these times — times when we break — that we find ourselves reborn. We become alive again.

PR is not about doing these things because it is what people want. It’s not always about what we want. Today, people can choose to hear only the news they are interested in. But life is about hearing what we want to know and what we don’t want to know. It’s about succeeding and it’s about breaking down. The important thing is to understand what we need, understanding that what we need is not always what we want. We all need love, hope and kindness. We need to listen to all perspectives, and build relationship.

I am in PR because I want to spread this message, this truth. I want to understand, and be understood. I want to be a conduit for positive energy, strength, compassion, truth. I want to inspire and empower. What better field than the field of mass communication?

Return to SoCal

Yet again I am returning from Orange County, California. And yet again I am writing a blog saying that I will post more frequently. However, this trip has given me a much needed break… or was it more of a return from a long break? In many ways, I can call Southern California home. It was great being home this past week.

I attended the Public Relations Student Society of America National Conference in San Diego. I was able to reconnect with peers from across the country, as well as begin meaningful relationships with industry practicioners who have had many years of experience. It was a very engaging conference, with very helpful workshops and networking opportunities.

San Diego is also the hometown of Switchfoot, one of my favorite bands. They give such inspiration through their music. On the release day of their new album Hello Hurricane, I saw them perform an acoustic performance in their hometown before heading out on tour. I met each of the band members and had them autograph my skateboard. The guys were diggin’ the Gravity! Have a great tour guys!

My friend Greg picked me up and we explored San Diego for a bit. He used to give kayak tours in La Jolla, so we were going to go cruise around the cove, but it turned out the shop is closed every Wednesday. He still showed me around; we saw the sharks, went to the tide pools — where I let a sea anemone close itself around my finger — and walked around the cliffs above La Jolla caves. I got within about 10 feet of a huge California sea lion.

From there, we headed north. Of course, we had to stop for some world famous fish tacos at Pedro’s in San Clemente. That brought back good memories from the summer. Made it up to Newport in time for a little surf session as the sun went down. It was small, but of course, still a good time just to be back in the water. That night we went over to UCI to skate the parking structure. Greg’s got the hookup from a few skate companies; they give him boards to test out. So we took about four boards out! Good times. I really like the Carve board. I forgot how much I missed skating. I’ve got to get back into it when in Tampa.

Thursday I got to hang out with Brandon. We just drove around and stopped to do whatever spontaneous opportunity came our way. We walked around this mansion, which was now a Christian network television station — super elaborate inside. It was rediculous if you ask me. It felt like my eyes were having a spaz attack, overwhelmed by the incredibly-busy decor.

For old times sake, I rode a bike over to Quiksilver, to give Andy a visit. I rode an hour for a five-minute conversation. But it was good to catch up for a bit. Everyone there was getting ready for the Eddie big wave contest coming up.

Surfed and hung out with Christian in the afternoon. We had dinner at Pickup Sticks, then later I had round two of dinner; Roberto and I went to Normita’s Surf City Tacos. I had one last fish taco. And we had a good talk and were able to catch up on the last couple of months. Made it back home to chill with the guys by the fire, and then we devoured some Pazooki.

I got up early today for one more surf session with Christian Surfers. Perry made pancakes, sausage and eggs for everyone. Lindsay gave me a big hug and then — an hour before my flight started boarding — I changed out of the wetsuit and headed to John Wayne Airport.

I’m back in Tampa now — greeted by 78-degree weather and clear suuny skys. Feels good.