First Fatherless Father’s Day

There was no refrigerator art or misshapen ashtray found when my dad died last year. At least no one mentioned anything like that even though he was a bit of a hoarder.

Robin and PaulThis is the first Father’s Day for me without a dad in the world. My dad left the family when I was 10. He was hardly ever really in my world, but at least I knew he was in the world.

My dad stopped by once in a while when his travels brought him near. He sent letters on thin blue stationary. And he assigned book reports in the summers, which he’d edit with a red pencil. Being a child of divorce meant minimizing my expectations. Don’t ask for much and you won’t be disappointed.

In my 20s, I noticed a book in a store titled Adult Children of Divorce. It certainly wasn’t a manual, but it did seem to validate some feelings about being a teenage girl with an unhappy mom and absent dad.

Now don’t feel sorry for me. Without those book reports I may have never become a writer, editor, journalist. A life I love.

And I always dedicate Father’s Day to my Mom.

Since my dad died 8 months ago, I’ve been unclear about how to grieve. Sue’s Mom died a little more than a year ago and her grief is clear. Her Mom was very present in her life and her loss represents a big hole today. And although Sue believes her parents are now together, the loss of her Mom means Sue and her siblings are now orphans. I see them shifting and changing as they redefine family.

Sometimes sadness over my dad hits me by surprise, and it’s always a little confusing. There’s still a lot packed into my relationship with my dad. In many ways, I’m still a 10-year-old kid.

Today, on Father’s Day, is the first day I’ve cried over his death. All the Father’s Day stories on TV just hit me. Somehow, perhaps, they cut through those minimized expectations.


Lessons from Pyeongchang 2018

In our house, we become captivated by the Olympics.

There’s something about the best of the best competing on a world stage that just makes us happy. Of course, we love it when the American athletes do well. We get pulled into the medal count.  We eat dinner in the living room and stayed up really late to watch the US women defeat Canada in ice hockey. (Yay!)

In this post I wrote for my day job, I bestowed Olympic-sized medals upon the top three lessons I will take away from the 2018 Winter Games. These Gold, Silver and Bronze lessons apply whether you are a budding Olympiad or a Marketing VP.

Gold, Silver, and Bronze lessons from the 2018 Olympics

Bobsled USA team Olympics

But, most of all, we are inspired by all the stories.

  • Fun-loving Adam Rippon turning down NBC so he can stay with his teammates for the rest of the games.
  • American speed skater Maame Biney’s father whose smile is as broad as hers as he cheers from the stands holding a sign urging his daughter to “Kick some Hiney, Biney!”
  • Apparently No Gerard is Left Behind. The youngest boy in a seven-sibling family, snowboarder Red Gerard won gold. His large and boisterous family entertained us more as they introduced the phrase “to get Gerarded” into the Olympic lexicon.
  • And there may not be a winter sport more frightening than the Skeleton. Who first decided to take the luge and lie down headfirst and hurl themselves down a curving track at speeds as fast as 80 mph? We offer medals to anyone who tries that sport.

Stories. That’s why we’re captivated in my house.

Very few of us have the talent, motivation, and training to get us to the Olympics. But we can all be inspired by the athletes’ stories and learn valuable lessons from their performance-driven habits.

New book: The Marriage Battle

Our book, The Marriage Battle: A Family Tradition, is out and available from our publishers Villarosa Media.

NEW BOOK:marriagebookcovernoshadow-webpage

by Susan C. Green & Robin J. Phillips

ordernowbutton (1)


Happy Loving Day 2017 | 50 Years of Equality

Montage of photos of mixed race family. Loving Day celebration.

Sue’s parents married in 1960 while it was still illegal in many U.S. states for a mixed race couple to wed.

I know it’s Pride Month and that has always been important and fun and empowering. But Sue and I are celebrating Loving Day this week, this month .. this year.

Few cases were more aptly named than Loving v. Virginia. 50 years ago today, June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court prohibited laws banning interracial marriage.

Mixed race gay couple applying for marriage license. Loving Day celebration.

Applying for our marriage license.

Specifically, for Mildred and Richard Loving, the Court overturned Virginia’s “Act to Preserve Racial Integrity” which had banned interracial marriage in Virginia while defining a white person as someone who had no discernible nonwhite ancestry.

Loving someone is risky enough without having to fight the government for the fundamental freedom to do so. So, yes, Pride Month and Loving Day are very intertwined. Sue’s parents – an interracial couple – married several years before that 1967 ruling. And Sue and I married several years before bans against our union were thrown out by the Supreme Court.

married couple

On the beach in Provincetown, where we got married.

We have written a memoir about how her parents’ marriage and our marriage are part of this great patchwork quilt in American justice. It will be published this fall by Villarosa Media.

As this ACLU video stresses, neither ruling ended the deeply entrenched discrimination we still see today. It’s a great start, but we must stay vigilant.

More:  Loving v. Virginia 1967 
Video:  ACLU on the importance of keeping vigilant 

Personal Branding for Journalists = Relationships

Here is a link to the slides I used while talking with members of SPJ – the Society of Professional Journalists – and its western states members at their annual convention in Phoenix.

Bottom line:  Personal brand is more than your reputation.
“Personal brand is a collection of perceptions someone else has which describes the experience of having a relationship with you.”Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 5.26.22 PM

It is what you bring to the table. What makes you different, distinct from others who are similar. What makes you spectacular.  My session is 1 part strategy and tools and 4 parts therapy. Journalists, whether you are still in a newsroom or have moved on to another field, have skills that are very valuable in a wide range of jobs.

Enjoy the slides. Reach out to me if you’d like clarification or want to know more.

Personal Brand for Journalists @ SPJ 2016

Personal Branding for Journalists 2016



Thinking a lot about journalists

Plan B.  That’s what they call it.  Journalists who have been downsized, squeezed out, shown the door.  They start thinking about Plan B … that is once they get over what I call the Nancy Kerrigan stage of grief:

Plan Next

Plan B makes me think of second place, also ran, a choice you really didn’t want.  I think it’s much healthier to go through life with an open mind, planning for the next adventure, learning as much as you can and keeping a close eye on the writing on the wall.

Plan Next thinkers take control. Even if they don’t manage the whole transition, Plan Next folks manage their reactions and build on what’s gone before.  Build on their strengths.

In Arizona, people sometimes say, “I didn’t cross the border. The border crossed me.” Journalists can say, “I didn’t leave journalism. Journalism left me.”

Well, if journalism leaves you. Don’t look for Plan B. Be ready with a Plan Next.


Want to know more?  

I’m thinking about all of this as I put together a session on Personal Branding for Journalists for the Society of Professional Journalists Western Regional Conference in Phoenix in late April.  Full schedule is here.  Stop by. Make it your Plan Next.

Robin’s new challenge, new opportunity

Such a nice send off. Lots of teasing, lots of love.

Such a nice early send off. Lots of teasing, lots of love.

I am in that limbo that we find ourselves in only a few times in life — well, some more than others. And journalists, I guess we get more practice than most.

I gave notice a week ago. I’m leaving my current job next week. And I’ll be starting another one the week after that. It’s a nice spot to be in: On one side, people are remembering me fondly and on the other, they are excited about all the potential I bring to them.

I’m headed to the City of Glendale (AZ) to run the City’s digital communications… I’ll be in charge of the city’s websites, social media, and whatever else we cook up in the future. I’m excited about joining a team that understands the power of transparency and community building.

Truly a happy hour.

Truly a happy hour.

So long, ASU

I’ve been honored to work at ASU, Cronkite and the Reynolds Center for Business Journalism, where I’ve been the Digital Director. I’ve had a wonderful time here for the past 5 years, but it’s a good time to step up to a new challenge.

I’m approaching this as an opportunity to figure out how Civic Information can be the new Community Journalism.

Some might not consider this critical journalism, but I do think there is a great opportunity to provide information, filling a gap left by struggling news organizations. I’ll be right there alongside the people of Glendale, residents, business owners, city workers, rooting for the city to do well, to thrive, to be fair, just and transparent. In the lexicon of journalism futurists, I’ll be a stakeholder too. I am no longer a detached observer.

One thing leads to another

Not sure exactly how it will all play out, but it sure feels like a natural progression from my early days in journalism working for a group of smart weekly newspapers in northern Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C.

I’m not the first to say it, but it’s worth repeating: The purpose of journalism is to give people the information they need to make better decisions about their lives and society. The first loyalty to both journalists and government is to citizens. In a world awash in information, there has been no more important time for those of us with journalistic skills to help people understand and help them find their voice.

To get ready for my new role, I’ve been studying city websites and civic social media presence. There are a few good ones, but they fall off quickly. Austin, Portland … then not much. Even big cities have big issues when it comes to how they present themselves online. Some places, like Boston, are putting a lot of time and attention into social media, but that leaves out a large percentage of residents.

It’s going to be an interesting and fun challenge. And, until the transition is complete, I’m going to enjoy this nice warm spot in the middle.