An Authentic Life @

a blog about authenticity and "keeping it real" at work, play and life

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Casting Crowns Concert Connects Compassion, Christ & Children

April 2nd, 2017 · No Comments

12BC1362-D894-4726-BCC7-A8E68B245EB9My wife and I attended the Casting Crowns concert at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ last night. This post is about how we came home from that event with a new child and a deep, deep respect for the individuals in that band.

The concert alone would have made the night amazing. If you’ve never been to a Casting Crowns concert, you should consider it. While it mostly appeals to Christians, it’s an experience that reaches into one’s soul whether you have deep faith or just love and compassion for people, especially children.

All of the musicians in the Casting Crowns band are youth ministers at churches in the Atlanta area. They spend Sunday through Wednesday at home working at their church and ministries and then hit the road to play concerts all over the country Thursday through Saturday. They are humble, loving, grace-filled people who don’t act like your typical superstar performers.

In fact, Mark Hall, who is the lead singer and writes most of their music is about as ordinary a guy as you’ll ever meet. His songs are inspired by his own journey, his recent battle with renal (kidney) cancer, his relationship with God, his interaction with the youth he ministers to, and the family and friends that surround him.

His heart is definitely worn on his sleeve through his lyrics and he pours every ounce of it into everything he does in the name of Jesus. That includes a deep commitment to a Christian child sponsorship organization called Compassion International.

Deb and I were so moved by his stories about work with that ministry and his family’s dedication to their own numerous sponsorships through CI that we decided to sponsor our own child and we signed up for that program while at the concert.

As part of that commitment, we received Mark’s new book which is a 6 week daily devotional guide where each week aligns with one of the songs on Casting Crowns’ new album, The Very Next Thing. The purpose of the book being to get each of us to do “that very next thing” that will move is closer to God and help us live out our faith. I began reading it today and will be following it daily for the next six weeks to help myself move forward in my own faith journey and spiritual growth.

So while we left our house last night looking forward to simply being entertained, we arrived home inspired, transformed and as joyous sponsors of a young girl from Africa. We’re now looking forward to writing a letter of introduction and staying updated on the progress CI makes in her village through donations motivated by Christian recording artists who lovingly support Compassion International.

Sometimes God does his work so beautifully and perfectly that you don’t even realize you’ve been blessed and invited to make a difference in this world.

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Leonard Cohen. Possibly the Most Underrated Troubadour Ever.

November 16th, 2016 · No Comments

If you think music is just notes and lyrics to entertain, you’ll find this an eye-opening read. Leonard Cohen was a deeply unconventional spiritual person. As a poet first and musician second, his music dives deep. Best part of this read comes after the lyrics — the interpretations. Check it out.

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NYC Subway Sirens Offer Enchanting Music and Stop Commuter Traffic

September 1st, 2016 · No Comments

A beautiful moment to stop, listen and smile inwardly as well as outwardly. All of us gathered around her were smiling and looking each other in the eyes. A rare occurrence in the NYC subway system…especially during commuting time.

The magical musical mystery tour of the NYC subway system presents:

Subway Violin

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How to Construct A Winning Webinar

May 18th, 2016 · No Comments

May 12th 2016 was a rather special day for my company, TheNewsMarket, as it embarked on hosting its first-ever webinar – ‘The Evolution of Storytelling to Content Marketing’! I developed the concept when I joined the company last December and constructed the elements and garnered support over the past several months.

You can check out the on-demand recording of the webinar here:
In the meantime, here’s a quick run-through of why we wanted to take on such a huge project, how we achieved it and the reception it received…

Preparation: Assembling Our Panel

First things first, every successful webinar needs a diverse roster of engaging experts to give your production credibility and put “eyeballs on screens.” As simple a point as this seems, the panel both has huge impact on your viewership and whether participants take away value and learnings.

Thankfully, we managed to assemble an expert and eloquent ‘A Team’ of marketing, media and public relations veterans, ready to spark debate and drive conversation. Here’s how we did it…

We started with the basics. Naturally, a webinar concerned with the nature of modern content marketing needs the strong voice of an accomplished marketer. With that thinking in mind we looked to our impressive list of clients and managed to secure the services of Kelly Funke, VP, Marketing at FILA USA. Great relationship? Tick. Exciting brand? Tick. Engaging speaker? Tick. One fantastic name on the team sheet down, two to go.

Next we decided to add value for our viewers by ensuring our panel was diverse. We came to the conclusion that to add balance we needed the perspective of a journalist with a wealth of experience at a top news outlet. Following a quick consultation of our worldwide media community, we had our man – Senior Digital Producer of 35 years at ABC News, Larry Shaw. A member of our media network since 2004, Larry was an obvious choice, having taken part in a survey which formed the basis for our whitepaper ‘The Digital Revolution – Shaping the Way Journalists Consume Content’. (CONOR – CAN YOU HYPERLINK THE WHITE PAPER DOWNLOAD HERE?) Now that we had a media professional with deep credentials, our next challenge was to find an expert in the area of earned media through gatekeepers such as Larry.

The final piece in our puzzle was Jann Ingmire, the newly appointed Director of Media Relations at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Media apostle and seasoned speaker, Jann is also a long-time friend of our host Ed Lamoureaux, SVP, TheNewsMarket, North America. More importantly, Jann has the unique credentials of having stewarded the longest running marketing content feed in America, The JAMA Newsfeed, a weekly production of the Journal of the American Medical Association.  There was no doubt Jann’s vast knowledge alongside her infectious enthusiasm would add another dimension to the discussion, bolster audience engagement and take the webinar to the next level.

With our panel in place, it was time to turn our attention to the big day!


A few months of meticulous planning and countless brainstorming sessions later and our project was beginning to fall into place. The aim was not only to drive conversation but to provide real value for our viewers by offering professional insight and stimulating ideas. For a brand in today’s digital age the real challenge is to make your story engaging using multimedia and to implement strategies that will connect with your audiences via traditional and new media channels. Helping brands overcome this challenge became one of the key goals of our Webinar and, according to our social media feedback, it appears we did a pretty good job!

Viewers used the hashtag #TNMontour to contribute with comments, opinions and questions for our panelists.

Many of our viewers shared the insights provided by our panelists with their own social communities…

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… and took to Twitter to pose their own questions to our experts.

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We were definitely ‘feeling the love’ after the presentation! As the webinar came to a close our audience showed their appreciation.

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All in all the webinar was a huge success, providing our viewers with invaluable marketing and story-telling tips while also helping us at TheNewsMarket to really think about how to optimise our content to engage audiences worldwide. You can check out The Evolution of Storytelling to Content Marketing here. Here’s to the next adventure and thanks again to everyone on the panel and in the audience who made our first experience so productive and memorable.

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April 13th, 2016 · No Comments

A list of the most stressed out towns in America. Are you on the list?

The Roadsnacks and Areavibes people selected a set of six criteria and applied them to every place in America with a population under 25,000:

More than an hour-long commute
Unemployment rate
Hours worked
Population density
Percentage of income spent on rent
Population without health insurance

Here is the list:

Mendota, California
Belle Glade, Florida
Posen, Illinois
Hapeville, Ga.
Guttenberg, New Jersey
Asbury Park, New Jersey
Jacinto City, Texas
Manorhaven, New York
Hallandale Beach, Florida
Marion, South Carolina
Cliffside Park, New Jersey
Darby, Pennsylvania
Country Club Hills, Illinois
La Homa, Texas
Palmetto Estates, Florida
Long Branch, New Jersey
West Athens, California
Bridge City, Louisiana
Terrytown, Louisiana
Woodlawn, Maryland
Bridgeview Village, Illinois
Park City, Illinois
South Houston, Texas
White Oak, Maryland
Riverdale, Georgia
Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania
Orosi, California
Avenal, California
Friendly, Maryland
Lindenwold, New Jersey
Cloverleaf, Texas
Fairview, New Jersey
Greenfield, California
Harvey, Illinois
Great Neck Plaza, New York
Dolton, Illinois
Home Gardens, California
Muscoy, California
Ashland, California
Lauderdale Lakes, Florida
Redan, Georgia
North Miami Beach, Florida
Clarkston, Georgia
Willowbrook, California
Gladeview, Florida
Candler-McAfee, Georgia
East Riverdale, Maryland
Bacliff, Texas
Riverdale, Illinois
Hazel Crest, Illinois
Norcross, Georgia
Lantana, Florida
Walnut Park, California
South San Jose Hills, California
Brownsville, Florida
Firebaugh, California
Goulds, Florida
Gretna, Louisiana
Reedley, California
Live Oak, California
Crystal Lake, Florida
Pahokee, Florida
Riverdale Park, Maryland
Lawrenceville, Georgia
South Valley Stream, New York
River Grove, Illinois
Franklin, California
Cudahy, California
Cutler Bay, Florida
Hornsby Bend, Texas
Country Walk, Florida
Los Banos, California
Wilton Manors, Florida
Stanton, California
Fair Oaks, Georgia
Parlier, California
Lake Worth, Florida
Boulder Hill, Illinois
Adelphi, Maryland
Avocado Heights, California
West Park, Florida
Hightstown, New Jersey
Pinewood, Florida
Spring Valley, New York
Inwood, New York
Penns Grove, New Jersey
West Perrine, Florida
Sauk Village, Illinois
East Hemet, California
Jasmine Estates, Florida
Coral Terrace, Florida
South Monrovia Island, California
Fort Lee, New Jersey
Montclair, California
Garden Acres, California
Ojus, Florida
Justice, Illinois
South Tucson, Arizona
Collingdale, Pennsylvania
Bridgeton, New Jersey
San Pablo, California
West Rancho Dominguez, California
August, California
Holiday, Florida
Oildale, California
Roselle Park, New Jersey
Garfield, New Jersey
Clifton, Colorado
South, Florida
Rahway, New Jersey
Newman, California
Golden Glades, Florida
Valinda, California
Lovejoy, Georgia
East Rancho Dominguez, California
East Porterville, California
Calumet Park, Illinois
Worth, Illinois
Hazel Park, Michigan
Three Lakes, Florida
Fruitridge Pocket, California
Dumfries, Virginia
Peekskill, New York
Maywood, Illinois
Bay Harbor Islands, Florida
Combee Settlement, Florida
Meadow Lakes, Alaska
Jeanerette, Louisiana
Selma, California
Conley, Georgia
Lamont, California
Glenwood village, Illinois
Westwood Lakes, Florida
Hollister, California
Keyes, California
Orange Cove, California
Forest Park, Georgia
Bell Gardens, California
Stone Mountain, Georgia

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