By 1984, I was one year out of corporate life … doing marketing consulting for a client who promised to make me a multi-millionaire (but lied his way into owing me $80,000 forever, which taught me some valuable lessons.)
As an early “interactive journalist” — along with my reports of the national political conventions, Oscars, and computer shows that I shared online — I posted interviews, from San Francisco to Paris, of what would eventually become my book, CHRONICLE: The Human Side of AIDS.
Also in 1984, I saw Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical, “Sunday in the Park with George”. The quality and message of that innovative work of theatrical and staging art moved me tremendously… inspired me to persevere on my own creative path, despite the strains and obstacles I was experiencing.
I remember coming home from the show … sharing in an online article the new motivation it had given me … and receiving back encouragement from far-flung readers whom I would never have met in person. That kind of feedback was the miracle of the “interactive” communications that so many of us were exploring and developing back then.
And now … in January, 2013 … I just saw a landmark production from another genius of the theater: Edward Albee. I attended the show’s original production FIFTY years ago (it opened in October, 1962, and I was still a newly arrived New Yorker.) It was a major sensation back then, but the current production — with Amy Morton and Tracy Letts — is astonishing, as well.
The message of the play, and the thoughts it gave me (once again) about living life authentically and finding happiness in who we are — well, they’re as powerful as ever.
But the show — the ferocious talent I’ve just experienced, very much including Albee’s writing — made me grateful to have realized that I had not been destined at all to be a playwright. That ability is simply not my gift.
Instead, I’m lucky to have discovered what has felt for many years is what I was meant for … i.e., speech and presentation writing (and coaching executives on how to present themselves with maximum impact on-stage) as a highly satisfying “Day job” … and writing song lyrics, expressing myself in the context of music, as my creative passion.
It turns out, that is who I am. What a stroke of good fortune to have found my real self. And what exciting hopes I have … believing, even at this stage in my life, that the best is yet to come.
May it be so.
In my final years at Avon Products Inc — when I had the greatest power, influence and karma I’d ever had as their youngest VP (before I started working for an insufferable jerk and did the bravest thing I’d ever done in my life and quit) … … I talked them into creating marketing partnerships with two movies.
For Annie we created the special Annie Locket (an identical copy of the one worn by the adorable moppet orphan in the Columbia pictures movie.)
And for ET we designed the amazing “ET Pot Pal” — might it help your plants grow with the same magical powers that ET used in the Spielberg film?
I went out to Hollywood to make the deal between Avon and Universal Studios. This was quite outlandish territory for Avon of that time. But those experiences helped me to experience, and believe in, the potential synergies among very different organizations, who find positive common ground.
(screen wipe to indicate the passage of 30 years)
Today I no longer hassle with the bureaucracy of a big, sluggish corporation as my employer and “approver.”
As I tell clients when they bring me on-board to perform multiple roles, when you hire Mike Greenly, you don’t have to wonder if your Writer, Speech Coach and Creative Director will get along. They’ll always share an identical point of view … mine!
And out here in the big wide world, I feel in many ways that, despite the man I see in the mirror, I have only just begun.
One example of what invigorates me is the partnership I’ve just established with the American Humane Association. I’m proud to know that this wonderful organization will benefit from my song, I Will Carry You… written with composer Paul Guzzone … performed by the beautifully talented Shara Strand … and to be released this spring by D1 Music as her second single with a new Dance Club remix. (Currently available on iTunes in both Pop and “Live Acappella” versions.)
I’ll say more about all that in the weeks and months ahead. But for now let me acknowledge that the folks at AHA are tremendous … wonderfully caring, hard-working people who help children and animals in, often, desperate need.
And let me add, in case you couldn’t tell … I’m happy.
Announcing New Song Partnership to Benefit the American Humane Association
Mike Greenly, Billboard-charted lyricist and former VP of Marketing for Avon Products, Inc, announces his newest songwriting collaboration, which will use his song, “I Will Carry You” to benefit The American Humane Association (AHA.) The song will be released in several versions (Pop, Live Acoustic, Dance Club) by D1 Music as the second single of rising pop phenomenon, Shara Strand, from her debut EP, “Born Tonight.”
Mike serves on the Board of Directors of Music Changes the World and the Foundation for Small Voices two non-profit organizations which actively use music to improve life around the world.
America’s new pop princess, Shara Strand, is a singularly skilled artist. From her debut EP, “Born Tonight”, came her first single release — written by Shara, herself — “Jekyll or Hyde.” The song is now available in Pop and Live Acoustic versions, with soon-to-be-released Dance Remixes by D1 Music (Peter McLean and Keith Kemper) and other internationally renowned FIX DJ/Remixers as Wayne Neuman, Mike Rizzo and Paul Goodyear. The song may also be experienced with Shara’s Official Music Video. Shara will begin touring a number of US Markets in 2013, helping more and more listeners to discover her.
“I Will Carry You” is currently planned for release by the spring of 2013. It is a song of unconditional love, support, caring and loyalty. Obviously that sentiment applies to the loving bonds and feelings from one person to another.
But our caring as human beings extends beyond just to each other. Shara, for example, cares deeply about the welfare of earth’s animals, in general, and specifically her own adorable Pomeranian, Coco, who recently celebrated his first birthday.
Shara — and the entire D1 Music team — are gratified to be able to join Mike in using the launch of Shara’s second single to help bring further attention to, and to help raise funds for, the highly respected American Humane Association.
About the American Humane Association
The mission of American Humane Association is to ensure the welfare, wellness and well-being of children and animals, and to unleash the full potential of the bond between humans and animals to the mutual benefit of both. Its goal is to measurably, demonstrably and significantly increase the number of children and animals who are protected from harm – and the number of humans and animals whose lives are enriched – through direct action, thought leadership, policy innovation, and expansion of proven, effective programs.
Since 1877, the historic American Humane Association has been at the forefront of every major advancement in protecting children, pets and farm animals from abuse and neglect. Today they also lead the way in understanding human-animal interaction and its role in society.
The AHA reaches millions each day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. It is Shara’s hope, however, to encourage her fans to get involved directly in supporting the organization and its goals.
Ken Mountcastle, Corporate Relations Officer at AHA, commenting the organization’s partnership with “I Will Carry You”, observed that “We are honored and excited at the desire of Shara Strand, Mike Greenly, and the D1 Music team to help their wonderful new song bring attention to the Mission that we’ve been pursuing for more than a century. We hope that Shara’s belief in supporting the welfare and well-being of children and animals, and her willingness to speak out on our behalf, will motivate many others to become involved with us as well.”
In addition to sharing their song royalties from “I Will Carry You” with the AHA, Shara and the D1 Music team are planning a very engaging social media awareness campaign focused on the song and its partnership with the AHA. Part of this initiative will be a fun photo contest open to fans across the country … with financial contributions made by Shara and the D1 Team specifically in honor of the winning contestant and their pets, who will be recognized by name.
This is about a song I’m proud of … a composer-partner I’m proud of … and a cause that I consider valuable and worthy.
Jim Papoulis is one of the most talented people I know. He is a world-class (and in his field, world-famous) choral music composer, but he is not the slightest bit vain about it. I met Jim in July of 2000, when a production company hired us to create a song for a Campbell’s Soup sales meeting. One month later, I sent him a letter with a follow-up on my suggestion that he and I consider writing songs together … for the public. After writing songs about computers, pharmaceuticals, soup and even ham (yes) what I discovered was … I love writing songs!
Jim’s wife, Stephanie was an exceptionally brilliant person. You didn’t have to be in her presence long to feel that. I was a bit intimidated by her, actually. She was so attractive, so charismatic, so confident and sure and … especially … so very smart.
And she believed in Jim and me. (Stephanie called him “Jimmy”.) She had such confidence in us and in what we could achieve, I couldn’t help but be motivated. She made me believe, even more, in myself. Many people I’ve heard from have expressed the same sentiment: she was an inherently inspiring leader with an impact on countless lives.
Stephanie was 45 when she died in 2007 of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD.) This terrible degenerative neurological disorder (brain disease) is incurable and invariably fatal. The CJD Foundation is widely honored and appreciated for the support, information and guidance it offers to those dealing with CJD. I know that they were helpful to Jim and his family.
Well, now … it’s been five years since the loss of Stephanie. Jim and I have written a new choral song together — “I Know”. Its words, for me, are true. It doesn’t guarantee “sunshine” at the end of any story. But the spirit of possibility through pain … of hope through whatever sorrow … is how I want to face sadness. As best I can. At this moment, Sandy Hook Elementary School is on my mind. My words feel puny, but I believe in them still.
The song is performed by the Young People’s Chorus of NYC — an extraordinary group of multicultural young singers whose lives are positively transformed by being a part of it … even as they earn awards for artistry around the world.
When Jim told the young choristers at The Young People’s Chorus of NYC the story of how he lost Stephanie, and of how this song would now benefit The CJD Foundation … the children were clearly touched … and, as Jim described it, “they sang their hearts out.”
Jim decided to make the song even more personal. His own three children — each genuinely extraordinary — now sing the opening lines. Caryl (“Piper”), age 19; Claire, age 17, and Demitri, age 12 … all are accomplished singers and musicians in their own right.
“I Know” is now available on iTunes, and will be published as sheet music in the spring. It’s a song that gives me a poignant kind of joy. I am honored to be Jim’s partner … and we are both honored, in turn, to partner with The CJD Foundation.
Click here to learn more about this very important musical project.
Recently I was quoted for my work as a speechwriter on politicalfiber.com, a website launched by the University of Kansas with two specific goals:
- To teach and inspire journalism students to do serious public affairs coverage
- To help build the demand for it, especially in young adults.
You can read the article at your leisure, but I wanted to share just a brief observation about one aspect of speechwriting and coaching, since I do both.
Most of my clients are corporate and I always encourage them to be real. As real as they can be … and as personal as they can be … in what they say and how they say it.
Of course, there are “real world” limits to what can be said “publicly” in any organization. And every organization — virtually every person — wants to impart as positive a spin as possible on whatever they wish to communicate.
The paradox of delivering an effective speech is that one must be as authentic as possible, on the one hand. Audience members don’t ponder their own mindsets as I do, but I happen to know that they want to feel a genuine connection to what’s happening and being said. No one wants to sit through words that feel empty of meaning, as though the presenter were merely a “reader” with no connection to the idea behind the words being delivered.
(It’s the same with singing. An artist who truly connects with the meaning of the lyrics and the soul of a song, will be vastly more effective in “selling” it to an audience.)
On the other hand —
Giving a speech is simultaneously “performing” … so you need to be real while being “bigger than life.” That is the paradox.
Now — having been quoted as a speechwriter in an online political forum, brings to my mind that, as a voter, I would like to feel as though the person seeking my vote will be real enough to allow me to feel it, to sense that she/he actually means what is being said. Reality, after all, is the only basis on which I would ideally like to base my vote.
Well guess what? As a corporate employee, I also would want my executive leader to be genuine in her/his remarks to us at an employee meeting. Certainly, I want and need to feel as though I can trust what’s being said.
And as I’ve seen over and over — after working with dozens of corporate cultures — the executive who gains people’s trust …
- which, by definition, you cannot bestow unless you think you authentically know the recipient of your trust
- that executive, in general, will be far more successful. And by the way, in my observation, generally happier, too.
Speeches … presentations … these are highly visible and influential ways in which an executive’s personal “brand” is shaped.
Some presenters — whether in business or in politics — are more able than others to show their real selves. More able than others to connect with us, even on the back row.
There is definitely some “risk” involved in being real. But, as I’ve seen many times, there can also be great power in letting one’s true colors shine through in all one says — even on-stage.
So, what do YOU think?
Mike Greenly Lyricist
THE LATEST FROM THE BLOG
- 04 Aug 2019From Stage Fright to the Power of Authenticity
- 03 Aug 2019Professional Speechwriter Shares His Secrets
- 28 Jun 2018Another #1 Billboard Hit!
- 24 Aug 2017Living My Purpose In Life
- 31 Mar 2016Does Everything Happen for a Reason
- 05 Feb 2016To Those Who Came Before Us
- 24 Nov 2015Always My Angel
- 04 Nov 2015The Power of Authenticity
- 17 Sep 2015“There She Is …”
- 13 Sep 2015Show Us Your Shoes!
- 60 Sutton Pl S, New York, NY 10022
- (212) 758-5338