Tuesday, December 20, 2011

NEW VIDEO: Carrie Whitney, Publicist

Publicist Carrie Whitney discusses what it's like to be an independent publicist with group of high school students at Grady High School in Atlanta.  In this 44 minute talk, Carrie covers a brief history of Public Relations including a story of Edward Bernays and how he went from creating war propaganda to creating the very first "Flash Mob".

Carrie received very complimentary comments from the students.  Here are some the things they had to say about her talk:
  • I want you to know that your time did not go to waste. I am considering being a publicist.     --De'Avis
  • I'm hoping to build a network with you because I am in the process of opeing my own store.     --Mercedes
  • You were very informative and interesting. I appreciate you and have the utmost respect for you.     --Shayla
  • You seem to like you have a wonderful and interesting career.     --Jamil
  • You have come a long way and it would be an honor of mine to hear you speak more so I can gain more knowledge.     --Terrance 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Carrie Whitney: The Life of a Publicist

Carrie Whitney: The Life of a Publicist
By Ben Gross

Not everyone gets to be his or her own boss. Publicist Carrie Whitney does. Whitney recently shared some of her stories and experiences as a freelance publicist with a group of students at Grady High.

Whitney told the class about what being a publicist is all about. She began by letting the students know that while public relations began as a field less than 100 years ago, it is now a program offered by a host of colleges and universities. Publicists’ chief task, Whitney said, is to use their skill as writers to promote their clients in the media – and to ensure that their clients’ reputations remain favorable.

Sometimes, this can be a challenge (especially the latter part), but that only adds to the thrill of public relations, Whitney said. Whitney spoke about another interesting element of PR: while marketers must pay for advertising spots in the media, publicist’s press releases are actually desired by the media and their contents are published for free. As we all know (probably from personal experience!), the public loves to know about what’s going on in their city, in the operations of businesses they like, and in the lives of their favorite celebrities; publicists are responsible for conveying this information to the media, which then makes it publicly available.

Whitney shared that publicists can work freelance like her, or become full time employees of businesses, institutions, or individual clients (for instance, Madonna has her own full time publicist). Each day brings a new challenge, Whitney said, “and I constantly find myself learning something new.” Whitney’s work as a publicist lets her become involved in a wide range of projects and work with a host of clients. She told the students about her work promoting a new energy drink, “Chuse,” which will hit Atlanta stores in the near future; handling what the industry terms ‘crisis management’ for an author who wrote an article that was taken out of context and began to receive some bad press; and working closely with Atlanta officials and business persons to promote local events like the Dogwood Festival. Whitney spoke about some of the unique advantages of working in public relations. She has contacts with journalists and employees at large media organizations both in Atlanta and New York City and she regularly receives invitations to high-profile events, like celebrity fundraisers and sporting events.

Whitney also talked to the students about what it means to be freelance. She told the students that she has the ability to work on her own schedule – she can sleep in and work late, or get up extra early and take the afternoon off – and she can often work at home in her slippers or with a coffee and muffin at Starbucks.

Whitney said that while there are perks to a salaried job – notably a bit more consistency in hours and pay – she could not imagine giving up the freedom and excitement of freelance work. Freelance work may not be for everyone, Whitney said, but for those who thrive on variety, unpredictability, and a good challenge, it offers a rewarding alternative to a more traditional career.

Friday, December 9, 2011

New Full-Lengh VIdeo: Mark Fogarty

Presented here is the entire 22 minute talk Mark Fogarty recently delivered to the Grady High School class about changes in Journalism. We call Mark's talk,  Getting in Touch with your Inner Genius.  In this clip, Mark tells the young adults that everyone has an “inner genius,” a uniquely personal skill set that enables them to stand out from the crowd and shine.  Mark is an editor for SourceMedia, a company that publishes dozens of business newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and websites.


  • After listening to you presentation, I have a better understanding of journalism and how important it is to our society.
  • Thank you for coming all this way from New York just to speak to us.
  • I think that journalism sounds like an interesting career to have and I might want to do that in the future.
  • I found your presentation very interesting and beneficial because I plan on majoring in communications for college.
  • I thank you with all my heart for the inspiration that you gave to us.
  • I loved your presentation, especially the giving away of the Kindle even thought I didn't win it.
  • Thank you for all the advice and for taking the time out to come and speak.
  • I want to start a better life so I can become some one just like you.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Don Cornwell: Top Ten List for Career Success

Don Cornwell: Top Ten List for Career Success
by Ben Gross

A previous speaker told us that we all have an inner genius, a personal set of skills that makes us unique, which helps us find work that we enjoy and in which we excel.

So, how do we know what our inner genius is?  For some of us, that’s easy.  We may have been playing golf since we were 3 or solving complex differential equations before we knew that the Tooth Fairy didn’t exist.

Still, for a lot of us, finding our inner genius is a little bit more complicated.  That’s where Don Cornwell comes in.

Don is the Associate Director at the Emory University Career Center, and he spends his days working with college students to help them discover what it is that they will find rewarding as a career.

Don recently came to Grady High to speak with the students about the process of laying the groundwork for a successful career.  Don began by telling the students that he himself did not know what he wanted to do for a long time; he said that in his experience working with college students, it’s common not to “know what you want to be when you grow up.”  Don explained that even if you don’t know exactly what you want to do, there are certain practices which will help guide you in the right direction.

Doing his best Dave Letterman imitation, Don presented the students with a Top Ten List for Career Success:

  1.  Believe in yourself 
  2.  Become a life long learner 
  3.  Be ethical…in everything you do 
  4.  Listen to your heart 
  5.  Get experience 
  6.  Challenge yourself 
  7.  Appreciate diversity 
  8.  Build relationships, find mentors 
  9.  Make good grades/Do good work 
  10. Be a team player and develop leadership skills

And, he told the students to always keep an eye open for opportunities and to approach every situation with enthusiasm and dedication.  Don told the class: “if you do your best and make the most of every opportunity, one thing tends to lead to another and good things are never too far away.”  

Mark Fogarty: Getting in Touch with your Inner Genius

Mark Fogarty: Getting in Touch with your Inner Genius
by Ben Gross

Everyone has an “inner genius,” a uniquely personal skill set that enables them to stand out from the crowd and shine.  Mark Fogarty, an editor with New York based SourceMedia, recently delivered this message to a group of students at Grady High School in Atlanta.

Fogarty discussed a slate of ideas and issues, ranging from stories of his own past to experiences and insights he has gained as an editor for a nationwide trade magazine.  He told the students that finding one’s first job and the process of sending out resumes is in large part a number’s game – he told the students that when he was looking for a job, he sometimes had to send out upwards of 100 resumes before receiving an interview, and then only for every ten interviews would he receive a job offer.   His message: don’t get discouraged by rejection, because it’s all but inevitable, just keep at it.

Fogarty talked to the students about the increasingly fast rate of change in today’s world.  As an example, he quoted the Atlanta based band Outkast and their song, “Hey Ya,” which features the lyrics, “Shake it like a Polaroid picture,” telling the students that someday soon, high school students may have no idea what a Polaroid picture is, now that the Polaroid instant camera has been discontinued.  He further gave an example from his own industry, telling the students that in the not-too-distant future, high school students may not even know what a newspaper is – considering how quickly e-media is growing!

Amidst his suggestions to stay enthusiastic and dedicated in spite of rejection and change, Fogarty continued to return to the idea of the inner genius.  Fogarty told the students that they all have a special talent to contribute to the world, and he stated that in his experience, so long as one works hard, pursues what they enjoy, surrounds themselves with people who give them positive energy, and continues to hone their talents (all of which amount to bolstering the inner genius), anyone and everyone can change the world.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Publicist Carrie Whitney to Speak at Grady High Dec. 8th

Atlanta Publicist, Carrie Whitney will speak at Grady High School December 8th about her career in marketing as part of the Grady Talks speakers series. 

Carrie has been associated with the marketing and event production agency, of PennHouse Productions for the past 10 years.   She also works with Launch Atlanta as well as on solo projects.  Carrie's name can be found on numerous press releases announcing art opening in the Atlanta area. She's worked on Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Museum of Design Atlanta, PEASANT bistro, Chuice Raw Food in a Bottle, Grant Park Summer Shade Festival and Caring for Others a homelessness prevention organization.

Additionally, Carrie has been a research assistant history teacher at Georgia State University. In 2010 she graduated from GSU with a Masters in Public Health.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Emory Career Center Consultant to Address Grady High School Students

Don Cornwell, Associate Director of the Emory University Career Center will speak to Grady High School students about preparing for their career on December 2nd, 2011.   Don has been working one on one with Emory students as a Career Consultant since 1998. 

Don earned a Masters of Education in Student Personnel Services with a concentration in Counselor Education from The University of South Carolina (1997) and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, with a concentration in Human Development and Psychological Counseling from Appalachian State University (1990).

Monday, November 28, 2011

Journalist Mark Fogarty to Speak at Grady High

"Liz Lieberman brings New York City journalist Mark Fogarty to Grady High School in Atlanta Dec. 1 to discuss changes in the media business".  That's the lead that Mark wrote in preparation for his Grady Talks lecture.  Mark says that the sentence includes the 5 W's of Who, What, Where, When, and Why. 

Mark's message to the students is that the process and foundation of journalism remains the same, whether if be print or electronic.  He offers advice on what students can be doing now in order to get into the field of journalism.  

Mark works for SourceMedia, a company that publishes dozens of business newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and websites.  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

NEW VIDEO: Amani Channel: Imagine Your Future

KEF Media Senior Producer, Amani Channel, talks to Grady High School students about the importance of working on your character in order to get the job of your dreams. He says that he hasn't really done anything exceptional to get where he is now. You just have to always do your best, do what you say you will do, be on time, look your best and practice your craft. He offers a comprehensive list of ways you can improve the way people see you.

In this half hour talk, Amani gives students a guide to building character and being seen as the professionals that they want to become.  From "showing up on time,"  to "making your yes mean yes," following this comprehensive list of "to do" items will assure that you will have a bright future.  Of course you still have to do a lot of hard work!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Amani Channel: Imagine Your Future

 Amani Channel: Imagine Your Future
 By Ben Gross

Whether you spend your days proposing bills on the floor of the senate or mowing the grass outside of the Capitol, if you give your job your all and do your best, you will find personal and career satisfaction.  So said media producer Amani Channel at his recent talk with a group of students at Grady High.  It really doesn’t matter what you do, Amani said, so long as you invest yourself in your work and take pride in your profession.  A journalist, avid blogger (see his blog, myurbanreport.com), and producer, Amani set a goal of breaking into the television industry as a college student, after taking – and loving – a broadcasting course.  Amani’s goal brought him from California to the east coast, where he began his career as a TV reporter in Washington, DC.  After some time in Florida, where he continued working and also earned a Master’s degree, Amani came to Atlanta, where he now works as a producer for KEF Media and also runs several small businesses of his own. 

Amani talked to the students about three keys to his success, which allowed him to realize his own goal of a media career. 

The first key: Have a Mentor.  Amani found a mentor at his first job in DC, who guided him and counseled him, and who has continued to provide him with insight and advice.

Second: Do Whatever it Takes.  Amani told the students that he would not be where he is today had he not always focused on putting himself entirely behind his work, and showing coworkers and employers that he is ready, willing, and able to accomplish any task put before him.  No job is too small or too big, no time commitments too demanding, and no project too difficult if you’re passionate about it and desire success, Amani said. 

And third: Be the Best.  Amani shared the following advice his father once gave him: “If you’re not learning something new everyday, you’re doing something wrong!”  By doing his best work and always focusing on ways to improve and learn, Amani told the students, he has been able to always be the best person he can be.  With this attitude, he has been able to set his own goals and reach them with confidence, knowing that good work and a positive attitude are rewarded with personal fulfillment and positive career results. 

Amani concluded by telling the students that if they are confident in themselves and remain passionate about all that they do, they will find that they, too, can “go against the grain,” stand out from the ordinary, and accomplish anything that they put their minds to. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Donations to Grady Talks are now Tax Deductable!

We have just received good news from the IRS.  As of October 27th, 2011, Talk About Your Future, Inc. has been approved as a 501(3)(c) charitable organization with tax exempt status.  Thank you for the hard work of our board member, John Williamson of Morris, Manning & Martin LLP who put together the submission.  

Please donate & deduct!  Also, if you know of any small family foundations, we'd love to be able to connect with them!  

Saturday, October 29, 2011

NEW VIDEO: Ed Hill: Nobody Owes You Anything

Prommis Solutions Senior Vice President, Ed Hill talked with Grady High School students about the lessons he learned, the mistakes he had made, and about finding a path towards success. 

Ed tells the story of the consequences he endured from making bad choices early in his adult life.  He now feels like he has been blessed as a result of making better choices and tell the students how working on their attitude and work ethic will inevitably lead them to a happy life.

He discusses the trap of "Employee Entitlement" and tells how he often sees young people who believe that they are owed something.  He says that it's not where you start that's important, it really about where you finish that counts.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

NEW VIDEO CLIP: Ed Hill on Ways to Be a Valuable Employee

Ed Hill: Ways to Be a Valuable Employee
By Ben Gross

Ed Hill, a business executive and vice president at Atlanta based Prommis Solutions, shared insight and advice with a group of seniors at Grady High when he stopped by the school to participate in the Grady Talks program.  Hill began with a personal maxim he coined as a young man to help guide himself through the ups and downs of life: good decisions lead to blessings; bad decisions lead to consequences.  Everyone has made a number of both, Hill continued, and everyone will continue to make bad decisions here and there.  What really matters, Hill said, is that you take responsibility for your decisions; that you enjoy your rewards as the fruit of your labor and own up to your mistakes.  Hill shared stories of some of his own poor decisions with the students.  He told them about his choice to drop out of college and his struggles with alcohol and drugs as a young man.  He told them that his poor decision-making and the resulting consequences led him to feel, at times in his twenties, that he could not and would not ever succeed. 

That changed, however, when Hill reconnected with a distant cousin, who taught him about the value of taking responsibility for one’s actions and thereby regaining control over one’s life.  His cousin helped him learn to face up to his struggles and take ownership of them.  It’s never too late, Hill learned, to change for the better and to break away from a negative cycle.  Hill urged the students not to blame the world for any problems they might encounter as they grow older; instead, he urged them to spend their energy making positive choices and looking for practical solutions.  “Take the word entitlement out of your vocabulary…No matter where we start, it’s where we finish that matters.  We may have been dealt a bad hand, but we have to own it and embrace it…Attitude and work ethic determine success,” Hill told the class.  Hill continued, “You are the sum total of all of the decisions you have made.”  Hill ended with a few simple words of advice.  He told the students to avoid complainers, keep a good attitude, and work hard – all while always remembering the importance of every decision they make. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ed Hill to Speak October 26th for Grady Talks

Prommis Solutions Senior Vice President, Ed Hill, will speak to today at Grady High School as part of Grady Talks.  Ed is in charge of Trustee Services at PrommisPrommis provides processing services for the residential mortgage industry.

Ed is provides executive leadership for Prommis' west coast companies. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

NEW VIDEO: Suneel Mandava: Write Your Own Story

Suneel Mandava, Managing Director at William Blair and Company, tells the story of how his father's choices made all the difference in his life, and the lives of his children.   When you are in high school, it's hard to imagine how your choices will have an impact on future generations,  but that's exactly what happened in India many years ago when his father was growing up.  He tells how "working the fields" was his family's destiny for thousands of years. That all changed when his dad got the chance to go to school and chose to work hard.

Suneel's story gives hope and inspiration for each of us to change the future in a positive way.  He shares the three daily tips he uses to keep his own kids on track.  He says "believe in yourself", "do your best and accept the results", and "have compassion for others."

Suneel is good friends with our chairman, Denis Brosnan who asked him to speak to the students at Grady High school, as part of the Grady Talks program.  He explains that when he was younger, he volunteered  with the Upward Bound, program that gives high school students exposure to business professionals.

Friday, October 21, 2011

NEW VIDEO: Jeff Johnson Talks About Your Future

Atlanta Personality, Jeff Johnson, talks about the characters in his life and how they play a role in shaping his life.  As an entertainer, Jeff uses his talents to motivate high school students to take the first step towards building their future.  He asks, "How are you going to go out today and start that process of making this world a better place to be?"  He tell of a concept he uses as a way of looking at life. He calls his metaphor, "Splashing Through the Puddles of Life" and describes how he uses it to deal with the unknown.  Enjoy Jeff's entertaining stream-of-consciousness and see if he motivates you to "go for it!"

More about Jeff Johnson
Jeff's Blog, Splashing Through the Puddles of Life

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Jeff Johnson: Asking Adults for Career Help

Jeff Johnson: Asking Adults for Career Help
By Ben Gross

As a Grady Talks contributor, Atlanta personality Jeff Johnson brought his unflappable enthusiasm to the halls of Grady High.  Johnson asked the students to think back to the halcyon days of early childhood: imagine, he said, that you are taking a walk on a hot summer day, and right in front of you is a big, deep, puddle.  What would the younger you have done?  Johnson told the students what he would have done: jumped as high as he could and landed right in the middle of it.  Sometimes the puddle was clean and clear; sometimes it was muddy and murky.  But, Johnson said, he would still jump, be the consequences what they may.  Which is a lot like life, Johnson told the class.  Life presents us with clean puddles and dirty ones: with challenges and rewards, successes and failures, struggle and peace.  While a little more circumspection might have saved Johnson’s family some laundry detergent in his younger days, life, Johnson said, differs a lot from puddles in that respect.  You can’t spend your whole life on the sideline.  Eventually, Johnson stated, you have to deal with life; you have to just jump right in.    

Life is all about relationships, Johnson continued.  Jumping into life, he said, means building relationships at every opportunity to do so.  Network, he told the students, intern, mentor.  It’s not easy, but it’s not too hard; and the rewards of such proactive relationship building, Johnson advised the students, are fantastic.  People can be applied to the puddle metaphor, too, Johnson said.  Good influences are like clean, sparkling puddles – seek them out.  Bad influences are like shallow, muddy puddles – step right over them and keep doing the good things you’re doing. 

Johnson told the students that jumping in also means practicing your craft, learning new things, and honing your skills. Find what motivates you through life, and go for it, Johnson said.  Don’t sit back and expect success to come to you, Johnson said; instead, think about what you want to do for your career and do it now – if you like it, keep doing it and getting better, if not, look for something else!  “Practice your passion!  Every day is a gift,” Johnson concluded by saying, “open up each day the best way you can.  Live it the best way you can.  Enjoy that gift, it means so much.”

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dave Walker: You are the Narrator of Your Life

Atlanta Business Attorney, Dave Walker, a member of the Grady Talks/Talk About Your Future team, instructs the Grady High class on the nature of relationships. He provides a great way to look at your daily interactions with others. He says you need to build up characters in your life that give you positive energy. You can avoid negative energy and stay out of trouble, by minimizing time with people who bring you down and letting the people around you know what your story is.

If you build up a cast of characters in your life while you are still in high school, you will have an easier time of it later on. Build relationships with the adults you meet while you are young. Give them positive energy and they will care about you and help you when you need them.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Suneel Mandava: Three Mantras for Daily Life

Suneel Mandava: Three Mantras for Daily Life
By Ben Gross

Suneel Mandava, Managing Director at prestigious Chicago investment bank William Blair and Company, flew down to Atlanta from the Windy City to address a group of Grady High students.  Mandava, who came to the United States from India when he was 3 years old, told the story of his father, a man who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to change his destiny.


Mandava told the students that in a culture where conformity is expected (India has a 4,000 year old Caste system, which dictates that the children of every new generation should perform the same exact social function as their parents) his father dared to be different and write his own story.  Education, Mandava said, was the turning point for his father.  Living with his parents and 7 siblings in a two-room shack, Mandava’s father worked hard every day to be the top student in his high school class, to win a scholarship to medical school, and to finally bring his family to the United States.  Mandava’s father did not have many opportunities as a child, but what few he did – notably access to education – he took full advantage of.  And, he always asked his teachers and principles for help and guidance, which they readily gave him when they saw his determination to succeed.  Thus, by believing in himself, working hard, and never hesitating to ask for help, Mandava’s father changed not only his own destiny, but that of his son, his son’s children, their children, and so on.  “When you change the course of your life,” Mandava said, “you change it for every following generation, too.”
After telling the story of his father, Mandava shared what he called “his three simple mantras” with the class.  He told them:
1) Believe in Yourself – if you don’t believe in yourself and your abilities, who will?
2) Do your Best and Accept the Results – you can’t always be better than everyone else, but you can always do your personal best, and when you do so you should always be proud.
3) Have Compassion for Others – often the most successful people are not the smartest or the most talented, they are the ones who can show others that they care.

And, he reminded them, when you succeed, you improve not only your life, but the lives of following generations, too…and in these days of global warming, economic recession, energy shortages and other such issues threatening to pose serious problems in the future, following generations could certainly use some good news!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Talk About Your Future, Inc.

Grady Talks is a project that is owned by a new start up non-profit organization called, "Talk About Your Future, Inc.". Last week, we put out a press release announcing our new website, gradytalks.org. Wow, what a response! We got picked up by media organizations across the country. If you do a Google search on "Talk About Your Future, Inc." you will see our results.

We've also filed for official 501c3 status with the government. If we receive the designation, you will be allowed to make a tax-deductible donation to our organization. Here is how we described Talk About Your Future, Inc. in the filing:  

TAYF is a Georgia non-profit corporation in good standing, which has been and will be operated exclusively for charitable purposes, particularly educational purposes and combating juvenile delinquency. TAYF provides mentoring and career counseling to urban high school students, with an emphasis upon at-risk populations. TAYF’s two principal initiatives are: (1) a series of motivational talks given by business, civic and political leaders, as well as celebrities and athletes, and (2) career coaching in small group sessions and workshops. Today, TAYF operates a pilot program at Grady High School, an urban high school in the City of Atlanta public school system. TAYF is presently funded by donations of board members and individual donors. TAYF is seeking an exemption under Section 501(c)(3) to facilitate the solicitation of charitable gifts, which would allow TAYF to expand its operations to other City of Atlanta public schools. For more information about TAYF, see http://gradytalks.org

TAYF aims to give Hope, Guidance, Inspiration, Motivation, Direction and Connections to high school students and show them the possibility of moving forward in directions they never dreamed possible. Far too many students are not sufficiently engaged enough in school to stay after the legal drop-out age of sixteen. Many young students have had no meaningful or positive exposure to the world they are about to enter and as a result do not see their own possibilities. Our program aims to open up that broader world to them, and help them make decisions and choices now that will set them on a path to fuller and more productive lives in the future. 

TAYF began as small volunteer effort by a parent to provide free career coaching to high school students, and has evolved into a weekly speaker series featuring an impressive list of corporate leaders, celebrities and professional athletes. The consistent message from the speakers is: “Find something that you love to do and are good at, and make that your future.” 

The speaker series kicked off in September 2010 with basketball superstar, Chris Webber, talking to a packed auditorium of 300 Grady High School freshmen about achieving their dreams. Public Broadcasting Atlanta’s recording of Chris’s talk is available HERE

Other speakers include representatives from a wide variety of prominent companies, organizations and institutions such as The Home Depot, WSB-TV, Chick-fil-A, Turner Studios, Georgia Tech and the CDC, as well as leading law firms and other professionals.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Talk About Your Future, Inc. Launches New Website for Grady Talks Program

Non-profit organization's new website offers streaming video of 2011-2012 school year lectures

ATLANTA, Sept. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Talk About Your Future, an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization focused on helping at-risk students at Atlanta's urban high schools to graduate and move on to productive careers and happy, healthy lives, has launched a new website for Grady Talks, its volunteer initiative focused on connecting business professionals with urban high school students through a series of lectures and discussions. GradyTalks.org, which features streaming video of lectures from the 2011-2012 school year, includes video footage of previous assemblies and events, as well as an updated calendar of events for the 2011 – 2012 school year.

Grady Talks seeks to introduce at-risk urban high school students to a variety of local businesspeople from various professions, in a non-threatening small group setting. Topics vary from person to person, but all lectures focus on the importance of staying in school and graduating, while also encouraging students to find their passions, follow their dreams, and define their own successes. "We are so proud of the new face of our organization," said Liz Lieberman, founder of Grady Talks. "Through our new website, students will be able to not only learn more about the Grady Talks program, but will be able to easily view upcoming lectures and events and provide feedback."

About Grady Talks Grady Talks is a volunteer effort that endeavors to link urban public high school students with business professionals, in order to ignite the passion needed to develop a healthy life. This includes providing opportunities for these students to succeed through connections with business professionals, creating a plan to help students define success while encouraging them to follow their dreams and passions. The goal of Grady Talks is to provide every student in urban Atlanta Schools the chance to engage professionals in any business field and hear important stories of lessons learned by the great minds in the business world. For more information visit www.gradytalks.org

Press Contact:
Jeri Yoshida
Strategic Vantage Marketing & Public Relations
310 396 8813
SOURCE Talk About Your Future, Inc.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Panel on Meet the Press says "Get Adults Involved in Kids Education"

Yesterday on Meet the Press there was a very relevant discussion about education.  I wish we could introduce Grady Talks to this panel. 

On the show Bill Bennett, Former Sec. of Education,  says, "We need to get adults involved in the child's world".   Tim Shiver, Chairman of The Special Olympics, says, "We can teach children to be optimistic and persistent.  He asks, "What would it take for kids to leave the school inspired?".   Tavis Smiley, NPR Host, says "Kids need to know how to think critically for themselves" and Donna Shalala, former Sec. of Health and Human Services,  says "Students need to know how to absorb new knowledge". 

Grady Talks is a volunteer effort which endeavors to link urban public high school students with business professionals, in order to ignite the passion needed to develop a healthy life. This includes providing opportunities for these students to succeed through connections with business professionals, creating a plan to help students define success while encouraging them to follow their dreams and passions. The goal of Grady Talks is to provide every student in urban Atlanta Schools the chance to engage professionals in any business field and hear important stories of lessons learned by the great minds in the business world. For more information visit www.gradytalks.org

Friday, September 23, 2011

Suneel Mandava to Speak October 14th for Grady Talks

William Blair & Company Managing Director, Suneel Mandava, is scheduled to speak on October 14th at Grady High School as part of the Grady Talks program.  Suneel is in the firm's Special Situations & Restructuring unit.  His company is a global investment firm offering investment banking, asset management, equity research, institutional and private brokerage, and private capital to individual, institutional, and issuing clients.  This is Suneel's first visit to Grady Talks.   He'll be sharing the class with Lawrence Toner of Turner Broadcasting. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lawrence Toner to Speak October 14th for Grady Talks

Turner Broadcasting Vice President of Operations/Project Services/Original Productions, Lawrence Toner, is scheduled to speak on October 14th at Grady High School as part of the Grady Talks program.  Lawrence addressed the students last year and talked about the TV business and how using common sense and building relationships is the key to job search. He told the students to be fearless and stop expecting that life is about fairness.

Here are some highlights from last years talk:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Jeff Johnson to Speak October 13th for Grady Talks

Atlanta TV Personality, Jeff Johnson, is scheduled to speak on October 13th at Grady High School as part of the Grady Talks program.  Jeff addressed the students last year and again for the 9th grade inauguration assembly.

Jeff has participated in Grady Talks on two other occasions.  He presented to a class on October 13th, 2010 and talked about Making a Good Impression.  He and Dave Walker also spoke at the 9th Graders New Student Orientation this past August.  You can find Jeff's bio on Grady Talks here.  Jeff's LinkedIn page is has a his full history.  To read Jeff Blog, go to GetJeffJohnsonnow.com

Here are some highlights from last years talk.:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Feedback from Grady High Students on Jae Brown's Talk

Jae Brown, CDC Emergency Management Specialist, told stories of his youth and getting in the kind of trouble that would kill anyone else's career. Jae's inspirational tales remind us that you can bounce back from adversity, if you are persistent and can recognize opportunity when you see it.

Jae got a great response from the students at Grady High School. Here are some excerpts from the letters that he received after the talk:

  1. "Thank you for enlightening me on 2nd chances".
  2. "Your life stories and reflections were very inspiring and put everything in perspective".
  3. "I know that I've made mistakes too. These mistakes made me think that they would stop me from achieving my dream of being a medical doctor. I know now that it is not too late for me to aspire for better things and have a good future".
  4. "Your stories were very inspirational".
  5. "I especially was inspired with the advice of you never know when a second chance will become your last chance. This nugget of wisdom really stuck with me".
  6. "I feel as though your speaking time has touched my life and has allowed me to view aspects in my life differently".
  7. "You gave me the instruction to want to strive harder to reach my goals in life".
  8. "I really appreciate the information that I was given".
  9. "I learned things that will stick with me the rest of my life".
  10. "It's true that you can always get back up every time you get knocked down".
  11. "Your speech has put me over the edge to completely rid myself of the issue (of procrastination)".
  12. "The best part of the speech was when you (said)...don't let your past life bring you down".
  13. "After hearing your speech I want to go straight home and research more scholarships and programs. I feel really encouraged to achieve my dreams. Thank you".
  14. "I would like to keep in contact with you. Thank you for speaking with us".

Jae Brown: Second Chances and Last Chances from Grady Talks on Vimeo.
Jae Brown, CDC Emergency Management Specialist, told stories of his youth and getting in the kind of trouble that would kill anyone else's career. Jae's inspirational tales remind us that you can bounce back from adversity, if you are persistent and can recognize opportunity when you see it.

Feedback from Grady High Students on Genie Sockel's Talk

Recently, Genie Sockel spoke about her career path to kick off a series of 18 talks scheduled at Grady High this year. She talked about how she went to Yale Law school and made a transition to creating a sensitivity training company.

The students seemed to really respond to her inspirational message and many chose to send her thank you notes to express their feelings.  Here are some excerpts from the notes that Genie received from the students:

  1. "You convinced me that you have to follow your dream.  I was absolutely inspired by your presentation."
  2. "As you presented, every word you said was meaningful."
  3. "You helped me put my future into perspective. You showed us when you said just because you went to college for law,  you still changed your career path."
  4. "Your presentation has motivated me to take more control of my life and career path.  I admire your hard work and it makes me want to work even harder."
  5. "I did learn something...thank you for coming on short notice."
  6. "You made me realize that through work and perseverance, you can achieve anything." 
  7. "I love you, you are awesome."
  8. "I really took what you said into consideration."
  9. "Thank you for being an inspiration and teaching us something new....thank you for bringing out important information about networking, discrimination, and tools that can get us through life." 
  10. "You taught me "Akamai" which I think is cool."
  11. "You have inspired me and releaved stress.  Now, I'm not worried about zig-zagging and changing my major or career path."
  12. "I have learned a few key tips to find my goal in life." 
  13. "You are good people!"
The entire talk can be viewed here:

Genie Sockel: Being Your Akamai Self from Grady Talks on Vimeo.

Experienced Lawyer, Genie Sockel, owner of Akamai Sensitivity Training (akamaisensitivitytraining.com) talks to a class at Atlanta's Grady High School about her career and the student's future. Genie shares her experiences with the students and asks them to think of the benefits make a good impression on people and avoiding unintended offenses due to a lack of cultural sensitivity. She explains what it means to understand your own personal "Smarts" and to use your "Smartness" to leverage improvements in other parts of your life.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

NEW VIDEO: Jae Brown on Finding Success after Getting In Trouble

On his third trip to Grady High School as part of Grady Talks, Jae Brown, CDC Emergency Management Specialist, reveals a story about how difficult it was to be a success after being convicted of a crime.

His inspirational tale reminds us that you can bounce back from adversity, but only if you keep at it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

NEW VIDEO: Genie Sockel on Being Your Akamai Self

Today we post a new video of yesterday's talk by Genie Sockel which she titles, Being Your Akamai Self. Genie explains that Akamai means Smart in the sense that your smarts are your strengths. The short version of the talks is posted below. To find the full length talk, follow this link to our Vimeo Page here.

In this short clip, Genie teaches an important life lesson using dating as an example. Do you have a similar story you might share that happened in your life?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Here are 9 Full-Length Talks from Grady Talks

Genie Sockel to Talk at Grady High This Week

As a last minute change, workplace sensitivity expert Genie Sockel,  has agreed to present her career perspective to students at Grady High School.  We are lucky to have get Genie jump in on short notice.

Genie has worked as a employment litigator at one of the nation's top employment law firms.  She now runs Akamai Sensitivity Training.   She helps managers who may not be aware of the impact of their communication and behavior on their colleagues and subordinates.

For students, misplaced humor, sometimes heard in their own homes, can easily blow a job interview and make the difference between success and failure.   Look for Genie's talk to be posted in the coming days.

Also, we've been fortunate to receive support from Atlanta-based Prommis Solutions.   Prommis recently provided marketing support, logistics and technical support for the launch of our website,  GradyTalks.org.  Prommis Solutions is a leading  provider of technology-enabled knowledge processing services for the management and resolution of defaulting residential mortgages, including home retention, REO closing and other mortgage-related services.  We are grateful for their support.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Grady High School Graduation Rates

We'd like to see everyone at Grady graduate on time!  Plus, we'd like to see all students go on to college and then on to meaningful careers. 

For the 2009-2010 school year, Grady High School reported a 91.6% graduation rate.  That's well above the APS average of 66.3%, the Georgia average of 80.8%, and the national rate of 69%.   Now, we've learned that the new superintendent,  Erroll Davis, has just ordered an audit of graduation rates after the discovery of 18 APS students who were incorrectly coded as graduates.

Also, the state has changed their reporting method to be consistent with other states and some fear the new graduation rate will not look as favorable.

Nationally, 70.1% of high school grads enrolled in college (in 2009). 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Joy Goodman

This week Joy Goodman kicks off the twice monthly speakers series for Grady Talks. Joy spoke to a class at Grady High School last year and told some inspiring stories of her years as an educator. In this quick excerpt from her talk, she shows her skill at "turning lemons into lemonade" in handling a child with stage fright.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Grady Talks Greatest Hits

Now that Liz Lieberman and Dave Walker have started the Grady Talks Classes at Grady High, I thought it would be great to see some of the greatest moments from last year's Grady Talks.  Here is Chris Webber talking about your career dreams and how to make them a reality.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Grady Talks Program for 2011-2012

Today, Liz Lieberman and Dave Walker worked with 14 Grady High students. This small group was hand-picked by one of the Grady academy heads.   Liz and Dave are providing career counseling with these kids on a monthly basis.

   In September, we'll begin the program of bringing in a total of 18 business leaders.  Liz and these speakers will present to two Grady classes and try to connect high school education with getting a meaningful and prosperous career.

Also this year, Liz will hold monthly "Lunch and Learn" sessions at the school's career center.

Planning your career?  Here is a great resource that we found which lays out 26 career pathways into 6 focus Areas:

  1. Applied Arts and Communications
  2. Business & Management
  3. Health Services
  4. Human Services
  5. Industrial & Engineering Systems
  6. Natural Resource Systems 

Here is a quote from the new Atlanta Public School Superintendent, Erroll Davis:

"What we have found out is that while students drop out in high school, the decision to drop out is often made in middle school."