365 Project, Day 162

Nikon D7000, ISO3200, 35.0mm, f/5.6, 1/125 sec

I guess this would be called “Limiting Consumer Expectations”.

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Shakthi Paramasivam

Shakthi Unlimited
Cleveland's energetic Yogi

What if someone were to tell you, that inside you already, is everything that you need to be fulfilled in life? That by simply tapping into and using the power that’s within, could take to you to the point that you needed to be? Long before Hippies of the 60′s, Tony Robbins or even Dr. Phil, a system of exercise, breathing and meditation was developed so that its practitioners would find a healthier, longer life and heighten self-understanding. The method that professes to do that and more is the 5000 year old Yoga, and one of the fast rising, dynamic teachers is Shakthi, (pronounced: shäk-thee) of Shakthi Unlimited.

Meditating since he was a baby Shakthi is a peace
Quieting the mind

Born in India, Shakthi and his family moved to Sri Lanka while he was still an infant and where he spent his formative years. Early exposure to yoga came from Shakthi’s grandfather meditating with him as a baby, following the yoga belief that meditation energy can be felt by others nearby. The physical yoga practice began for Shakthi at age 8 around the same time the family returned to India. In 1998 Shakthi came to the United States to attend the highly competitive engineering school at the University of Cincinnati. As he continued to be an active practitioner of the yoga lifestyle, Shakthi was drawn away from the attraction of construction industry and toward guiding and coaching others to reach a higher level as part of his own life-path.

“I only convey what I’ve experience myself. I don’t just read the books and say that ___ says this so it must be true. I apply it to my life first, so there is some authenticity to my life. Then I can convey ideas based upon my original experience, bring authenticity to my teaching.”

Giving a message so others may grow
“You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Teaching others
“We must become the change we want to see.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Shakthi will be among the first to say that, the difference between yoga and simple physical exercise is the creation of a connection between what the body is doing and what the mind is thinking. An example of a simple exercise might be running on a treadmill while watching TV. Exercising in this way is an activity where the body is getting a workout but the mind distracted. In yoga there is a connection to the body and the mind by bringing awareness to breathing. Yoga practitioners create a higher level of awareness to what is going on in their body moments or what is described as “ones conscious”. It is the belief that the consistent practice of yoga and the lifestyle associated with it, is what allows people to get more out of any exercise and even life itself.

“Yoga is like breathing… it’s like food… it’s all prevailing. Yoga is a tool that helps with everything!”

Class in Twinsburg, Ohio
Teaching and opening doors of the mind

Elevating people from where they currently are, to a higher level is, what Shakthi teaches through his different yoga classes. There are two types of physical movement classes: Fluid Dynamics Yoga and Partner Yoga involving many of the traditional yoga poses and exercises. There is also a class called: Meditation for a Sexy Mind and a Calm Body, focused on the creation of a strong, conscious, mind-body link and improved living.

Shakthi holding yoga class in Twinsburg, Ohio
The mind-body connection

Shakthi also holds periodic large scale, Empowerment Seminars throughout the year. In these seminars people are shown that physical action can aid in both shedding fears and building confidence. Within a period of a few hours, Shakthi guides students in the taming of several fears including one of the most primal, the fear of fire. Students are taught the history of firewalking, safety issues, go through several confidence building exercises with role playing, all culminating in a walk across a 10 to 20 foot bed of hot coals. To reinforce the message that great things can be accomplished by believing in one’s self, selected participants are then asked to break an archery arrow positioned between a wall and their throat, without using their hands. With new found confidence participants overcome the rational fear of injury and walk forward, breaking the arrow.

There is a saying, “helping others is its own reward”; that being true, Shakthi is rewarded time and time again through his guidance and empowerment of others.

Yoga accepts. Yoga gives.
Empowerment through firewalking
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Kevin Goodman

Training for the marathon in Ireland
Running closer...
Marathon training run
and closer...
Rainy day run in the Chagrin Valley Metro Park
toward the ultimate goal.

The race that we now call a Marathon traces its origins to the Greek messenger Phidippides.  Legend has it, after the monumental run between the Greek cities of Athens and Sparta and then back to Athens, (about 140 miles each way). Phidippides immediately marched with the Athenian army to fight off the invading Persians on the fields of Marathon, just outside of Athens.  After aiding his fellow Athenians win the battle, Phidippides then ran home, ahead of the victorious army to announce Nenikékamen, “We have won”, then died on the spot from exhaustion.  The twenty-six miles, three hundred eighty-five yards, that make up the modern-day marathon celebrates not only the victory run of Phidippides but the devotion to service of all his heroic runs.

Phidippides serves as an example of a higher call to service for his city as a messenger and a soldier.  Kevin Goodman, Director of Business Development for BlueBridge Networks feels a similar call to service to his community as a different kind of warrior.

It was in 2005 that Kevin was declared to be in remission from lymphoma, a cancer that strikes the lymph nodes and affecting the immune system.  While undergoing treatment for cancer Kevin came across a Team In Training brochure in the library of his treatment center.  Team In Training is a group that helps with fundraising and training for endurance sports.  In exchange for training and support, participants raise funds for the cure of Leukemia and Lymphoma.  Since 2008, over 360,000 volunteers with Team In Training have raised more than, $850 million for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Kevin Goodman loves connecting to his clientsChances are many overlooked that Team In Training pamphlet but Kevin gained the inspiration to begin a personal quest of fulfillment and gratitude.  Like the mythological heroes before him, Kevin’s quest would take him away from his home and requiring him to overcome numerous obstacles, to achieve an ultimate and rewarding goal.  After waging his personal battle against cancer, Kevin joined the global war against the disease that tried to take him away from his family.  With the purposefulness of Phidippides, Kevin runs distances from 5K to full marathons to raise awareness and carry his message of hope to those with cancer.  The ultimate intent for Kevin’s quest are both philanthropic and personal.  Honoring a personal commitment that he made while undergoing treatment, Kevin pledged to raise $100,000 for cancer and other causes in which he believes.  He hopes to hit the monetary mark at the same time he reaches his ambition as a distance runner by running in the Boston Marathon.

“In the last hailstorm and wind, I had the fortune to run up and down Fairmount Boulevard, among the mighty oaks and the old mansions.  I’m out there running with just shorts and shoes and I’m getting pelted with hail and rain.  It took me back to a place of sitting in a chair receiving chemo or an excision had taken out a piece or part of my body that was cancerous… or worst yet the biopsies or bone marrow treatments.  The pelting and the stings of those hail stones… quarter size some of them, the stings took me back to… that treatment.  Gratitude yes… painful yes… the contrast to that, why I’m out there running, ten o’clock at night, in this storm, is for others and gratitude that I’ve been spared.”

Safe data, safe computing
BlueBridge Networks servers

With an incomparable blend of self-help guru, evangelist, coach and mythic hero, Kevin sings the mantra of showing up, ready to deal with whatever challenges that are in front of one’s goals.  It’s the  principle he applies to being a husband and father to his two children, in the role with BlueBridge Networks and as a distance runner.

Growing the business through relationshipsWith total commitment Kevin preaches the idea that the smallest effort or gift can make the biggest difference to someone else’s day, week or year.

“People can say whatever they’d like about me, but what they can’t say is that he [I], don’t love and I don’t serve!”

By his own accounting, Kevin says he has raise more than $83,000 running, biking and swimming to date.  In October 2011, Kevin qualified for the Boston Marathon with a time of three hours, twelve minutes and fifty-six seconds in the Towpath Marathon in Ohio.  Kevin met his personal milestone as a runner with qualifying for the Boston Marathon and now works to reach his monetary goal of raising $100K.  Already with an eye towards his next goal, Kevin plans to semi-retire from longer distances and become the best 5K runner he can be while coaching and inspiring others to give of themselves for a greater good.

Managing Director of Business Development at BlueBridge Networks, LLC
Giving of himself so that others may share their gifts
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Brian Doyle

Owner, Farmer, Chef Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle of Sōwfood

One of the overlooked bounties of living, working or visiting Cleveland, Ohio is its wide cultural diversity. In the early 20th century African-Americans, Chinese, Czechs, Germans, Hungarians, Italians, Irish, Poles and Slovaks came to the shores of Lake Erie bringing their hopes and dreams of a better life. Packed along with their few and precious belongings, they brought their language and heritage, often in the form of food. Perogies, falafel, cavatelli and wiener schnitzel are exotic-sounding dishes in many parts of the country but to Clevelanders, these delights are separated by only a few city blocks. As far away as Central Pennsylvania, Cleveland’s cultural and food diversity looks like paradise. It’s that mixing and blending of flavors that brought Chef Brian Doyle to Cleveland in 1996 to further his culinary career.

Making sure we are prepared for the evening
Chef Doyle reviewing the menu

The list of fantasy careers that a seven-year old will share with others is vast and long, ranging from Astronaut to Policeman, with the occasional Lion-Tamer thrown in for good measure. Brian Doyle’s love of food and all things related, made his career choice clear, he wanted to be a Chef. With the loss of his mother at an early age, Brian sought what brought him comfort and joy in his life, gardening and cooking with his family.

Tomatos ripening on the vine
Fresh tomatos from the Sōwfood farm

“On my mother’s side of the family, they, [my grandparents] were from the south and they had a huge garden… I would say about an acre. So I helped plant, I helped harvest and I helped cook too, so my appreciation for food came from that. On my dad’s side of the family, my grandmother was from Sicily and my grandfather was from Ireland and they had a huge garden also. So between both families, I was always gardening, fishing and cooking.”

Brian’s family tradition and influence about cooking with fresh, wholesome food was further inspired by the cooking shows of his youth. Long before the Food Network came into existence, there were the classic cooking shows of PBS. Together with his father, Brian would enjoy Julia Child, Justin Wilson – Cajun Cookin’ and the now infamous, Jeff Smith – Frugal Gourmet, instead of the traditional Saturday morning cartoons. However, it was the opera singing chef from Toronto, Canada, Pasquale Carpino and his show Pasquale’s Kitchen Express that thrilled and excited Brian about professional cooking with his showmanship.

Food from Sōwfood
Delights from Sōwfood catering

Graduating from Penn State’s culinary school at Pennsylvania College of Technology, Brian began his apprenticeship under a variety of skilled Executive Chefs in both the hotel and restaurant kitchens. After years of long hours learning and perfecting cooking techniques while taking on more responsibilities in the kitchen, Brian ultimately became the executive chef of the Fulton Bar and Grill. In his first role as an executive chef, Brian spread his wings offering creatives spins throughout his menu. With executive chef experience Brian then took on the maverick role as the Head Chef at The Marriott on Cleveland’s Westside. Tasked with changing the kitchen culture, menu and dining experience, Brian fully embraced his role as an agent of change.  After time and significant effort, the change that were desired in the Marriott kitchen were in motion and Brian’s need for new challenges took him to new opportunities.

Now Brian’s focus is his own food business, Sōwfood and becoming another piece of Cleveland’s community legacy.

Sōwfood is the umbrella name of this concept of food access, food education and food life. We’ve become a culture of convenience products, prepared packaged goods and we’ve lost a part of ourselves in that. We’ve lost an intimate relationship that we’re suppose to have with food; it’s biological. I’m interested in everyone coming back to food in a more real way.”

Meeting with local farmers
Brian meets with other urban farmers

Sōwfood all starts with an urban farm producing wholesome, fresh produce, just like what was available from Brian’s grandparents’ gardens. The riches from the farm also are used to further food education for Cleveland’s next generation. In cooperation with the Urban Community School, Brian helps widen the food exposure to young people and provides options to the fast food that permeates many of the children’s communities.  Sōwfood strives to be self-supporting through traditional catering and a unique offering that allow subscribers to receive weekly prepared meals using locally produced food from local urban farms, including their own.

Brian’s roots are in the gardens of his grandparents, in the cooking shows of his youth and the world of experience he’s gained by cooking professionally for years. Now Brian’s roots are planted and growing deep in Cleveland’s fertile food culture and community. Like those early immigrants to Cleveland shores decades ago, Brian works not only to provide for his own family but works to make his adopted community better.

Using the weed wacker to take dowm some of the weeds
Always work to do on the farm

 

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Timothy Callaghan

Timothy Callaghan ArtistTimothy Callaghan PainterWhen you first hear the word Praxis, sports fans might immediately think about basketball star, Allen Iverson’s rant about a word that sounds similar. Perhaps the word Praxis makes you think about a series of tests to become a teacher? Contrary to what some others may think, Praxis is not the latest drug on the market to make you younger, thinner or wealthier. The word Praxis is defined as the act of engaging, applying or the practice and practical side of a profession or field of study, as distinguished from theory or conjecture. Praxis is certainly a the vocabulary word of the day, as well as Timothy (Tim) Callaghan‘s favorite word of the moment.

Praxis is a fitting word for Tim and his apparent approach to his work. While the laid-back persona, casual dress and scruffy beard might give the appearance of someone on vacation, pondering their next beer; the reality is it’s a mask that Tim uses, while he contemplates the deeper aspects of art, community and culture. Tim’s real role is engaging the world, as a professional voyeur and applying what he sees as a documentarian and in the practice of being an artist.

Tim’s quiet confidence is supported by a solid academic background, Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Cleveland Institute of Art and a Master of Fine Arts from Kent State University. It is with his teaching experience and a solid resume that allows Tim to divide his time between adjunct professorships at Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland Institute of Art and Oberlin College and his true passion, making art.

In an old industrial building on Cleveland’s east-side, is where Tim practices the professional side of being an artist. In a location ripped out of a scene from a movie, is the low-key artist’s retreat. Flights of stairs are the only way to the fifth floor, because the elevator has been broken for months. From the landing, a dark hallway leads through one of the many characterless doors, to a space bathed in natural light from large-framed windows on two sides of the room. Part workshop, part office and part living room, canvases from small to enormous either sit on narrow plank wood floors against the bare brick or are mounted on unpainted, gypsum walls. This is Tim’s space and where he leaves the world of theory and conjecture, for real application.

Easel Pictures (Edge of the World)
Fitting since praxis could also be used to describes Tim's approach to his art

Despite his academic credentials, more than five years after his first solo art show and countless peer acknowledgments, Tim has an understated reluctance to refer to himself as an artist, preferring the title “Painter” instead; he speaks to his reverence that he has for his craft.

I still always call myself a painter, before I call myself an artist. Thinking about the idea, of art being this craft, where you learn your history and then you learn the craft of the practice. Then, [after that] you’re suppose to push art forward and make something new, which is great! I was never interested in that [idea] so much. I love my history so much, I want to contribute to it.”

Influenced by 20th century painters like Fairfield Porter, David Hockney, Alex Katz and Alice Neel, Tim chooses to express himself in the crossroads of impressionism and realism in his paintings. As a practitioner of what he calls patient observation, he seeks to depict the scenes of modern Mid-Americana in his paintings. His latest art show, Easel Pictures (Edge of the World), is on display at The Arts Collinwood Cafe, beginning October 7, 2011, with many of the familiar faces of Collinwood’s Waterloo Road merchants, residences and local celebrities.

Enjoying the light of the studio
“That's the most valuable thing to me as an artist... my time; it's more important than money.”

With this series, I wanted to do a project where I made portraits so that I could learn something new. It’s something that I never really did, except for a few assignments in college but, it was something that I wanted to develop organically and not be too sentimental.”

The centerpiece of the show will be a painting of the Caswell Family and the largest canvas in the series. The sum of the series might be the story of the North Collinwood couple that met, wed and decided to begin their family in the center of Tim’s adopted neighborhood and the center of his focus.

If you ask Tim what his work is about, you’ll get a chance to see his wry smile as he tells you, “I don’t know what my work is about, that’s why I continue to make, so I can figure it out.”

As he continues to learn about himself and his surroundings, you can be certain that Tim will always carve out time to express himself, and apply the professional side of being a witness, painter and an artist.

Tim

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John Fox

Charlie Fox from Boulevard Elementary School
Monday morning with John Fox in Shaker Heights, Ohio

These days he would have been called a “Tween”, past being a child, but not yet a teenager.  It’s the age when you discover that girls don’t have cooties, and that some of them can even make you feel tingly inside.  It was a simpler time, without todays distractions of video games or music television; when kids actually went places to do things.  When you grew up in Cleveland’s east side suburb of Shaker Heights, Thornton Park Ice Rink was one of those places to go; skating was one of those things to do.  Kids of all ages were drawn to the ice rink for fun, to socialize and just to be young.  It was there on  the ice that the not-yet-a-teenager saw a young girl skating.  As she glided and flowed across the ice the boy was putting together phases to glide across the page.  Painting a picture with words and capturing the experience, a poem is written, his first poem.

Keeping in touch with himself by keeping in touch with others
"I don't always do a good job understanding Facebook"

As young man his friends and classmates called him Charlie but is now known professionally as John Fox, Certified Poetry Therapist, Teacher, Author and Director of the Institute for Poetic Medicine.  The path from the first poem to directing the outreach of healing poetry is the result of John’s unique life experience.

“Growing up I had a problem with my right leg and ended up having seven surgeries on it between the ages four and eighteen.  I don’t know if I had the words for it then but I like the idea that writing poetry was an escape, catharsis and a connection for me.  Imagination is a wonderful thing, especially if you have to deal with a lot of physical pain.”

Ultimately, after his freshman year of college, John’s final surgery was a below-the-knee amputation of his right leg.  Through the recovery from that surgery John leaned heavily on his writing.  Gaining perspective and understanding of what happened and how he was going to move on, John began developing many of his own “healing writing” methods.

With a bachelor’s degree from Bard College, and under the tutelage of one of the leaders in poetry therapy, Joy Shieman, John learned to interact with poetry as a tool for healing.  With less emphasis on the academic assessment of writing, John focused on how to facilitate the connection of the life altering experiences of the people that he worked with.  Joy’s guidance allowed John to hone his techniques of experiential analysis, psychological counseling along with a balance between empathy and reasoning.  As a result, John became a Certified Poetry Therapist that travels to hospitals, hospices, prisons and everywhere physical or emotional healing is needed.

Director of The Institute for Poetic Medicine, John Fox
“Awakening the Soulfulness within the Human Voice”

With years of working with children and adults facing their own fears and concerns, John wrote his book Finding What You Didn’t Lose, (1995, Tarcher) a guide in the use of classical literary elements to communicate through poetry.  Following the success of his first book, John wrote his second book, Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making, (1997, Tarcher), that examines how to give “birth” and nurture a poetic idea for its full expression.

To further the healing art of Poetry Therapy, John established the non-profit, The Institute for Poetic Medicine in 2005.  The Institute’s mission is to find, develop and fund those projects dedicated to using poetry to examine and find a connection with life changing events.  John continues to work on “Awakening the Soulfulness within the Human Voice” through fundraising for the institute and providing the much needed therapy to others.

Holding on to his Shaker Heights in his heart, John now resides in Northern California where work continues on another book, this time a collection of his poems.

Warm hands, warm heart
Standing, watching an ice skater, John Fox writes his 1st poem
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Elle Morris

Executive, mother and the new wave of volunteer
Elle Morris, a beauty inside and out

 

Volunteer, executive, mother and self admitted JUNKIE!  For most people this would be the recipe for disaster, or at least a Lifetime movie.  In this case the self admitted BEAUTY JUNKIE finds her “habit” has led her to her profession, passion and a multitude of benefits.

“Beauty is what I love and I love what I do.”  Elle states with ease of someone who just had a fix.

In reality the Vice President and General Manager of Beauty for LPK, Elle Morris is a straight-laced, teetotaler who’s only known vices are her love for beauty, fashion and 1980’s.  Together with Edward Richardson, her husband of more than 10 years they  raise their two children in a quiet bedroom community outside of Cincinnati, Ohio.  When not at home you can find Ms. Morris leading the Beauty Division of LPK, a company that has been described as “one of the largest and most influential branding agencies on the planet.”  If that weren’t enough, Elle serves on the Board of Directors for Elementz: The Hip Hop Youth Arts Center, and participates in the non-profits’ fundraising efforts.

“Really, it’s all a natural fit.  I love my family, I love my job and while I might look like a little white girl from Connecticut, I’ve been down with Hip Hop since it started back in the 80’s.” she says while giving me a look that she obviously saves for the highest level of dismissal.

Not from the Mayflower Society
Don't judge this book by it's cover

At first glance this Manhattan born, Fairfield, Connecticut raised Wheaton College educated woman looks like she would be more at home in a meeting of The Mayflower Society than a hip hop concert.  Her fair skin, red hair and green eyes are attractive but  hard to imagine in a sea of 1980’s B-Boys and Fly Girls.  As the old adage says, “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, Elle is much more complex than she appears.

“My grandmother was from Cuba, (my mother’s mother).  My mother was raised internationally, her father was a diplomat, so I always had a curiosity about other cultures.  Anyone like me….. I had no interest in.”

Elle Morris become one of the leaders in beauty marketing
Elle always with an eye towards beauty

While in college the desire to learn about others motivated Elle to join the Union of Black Students primarily because there was no club for Latinas.  Later she became a founding member of the Latin American Students Organization, (LASO) but maintained a multi-ethnic circle of friends.  Together they went to step shows, were fans of the first wave of hip hop artist and frequented local concerts.

Elle’s multi-ethnic circle also shared a common interest in beauty, exchanging their different skin care and hair regimens.  Her desire to learn about other cultures ultimately became her profession, understanding women’s beauty needs and requirements.  She now regularly travels throughout, Brazil, China, Japan, India, Singapore, Europe and North America to further her understanding of the differences and similarities in being a woman in various cultures.  The acquisition and use of that knowledge is key to the marketing of beauty products in the varying regions around the world.

Stop pay attention and listen
Elle Introducing Yana Baby at an Elementz Showcase Event

Being the complex woman that she is, work and home alone will not satisfy Elle.  She has chosen to use her strategic marketing muscle  she’s developed over the years to give back to her community.  Her love of early hip hop music and culture brought her to Elementz: The Hip Hop Youth Arts Center in Cincinnati’s economically deprived Over-the-Rhine community. As a mother she also feels a heightened responsibility to reduce the racially divided Cincinnati, making it a positive place for her children to grow up.

“Younger people may not know that hip hop started as a positive movement and it has devolved over time.  What I love about Elementz is that it’s positive and goes back to the original culture of hip hop which is uplifting.  Elementz focuses on rebuilding the original message of hip hop.”

Elle’s pride in Elementz is strong and points out that through the music and culture that she shared with her circle friends and that started her down her professional path, is now making a difference to Cincinnati’s at risk youth.  If she had a magic wand she would wave it to make Elementz financially strong and independence so they could help more of the young people that need alternatives.  In the mean time she continues to flex her marketing muscle to further the good works of Elementz.

One of Elle favorite quotes is “Beauty is as Beauty does.” meaning that what someone does is the true gauge of how beautiful a person really is.  Elle is the complete embodiment of beauty.

The sky is the limit for Elle Morris
Mother, executive, hip hop volunteer
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Susie Sharp

Susie doing what she always does and following the sign
My friend Susie Sharp outside Deweys Coffeehouse

When I asked my friend Susie Sharp if she would be the subject of my first blog entry, I was surprised at the enthusiasm with which she said yes.  I’m sure if I had stopped and thought about it I shouldn’t have been shocked since that’s Susie’s nature, “being in the mix,” as the jazz musicians say.  After all, we are talking about Cleveland’s Queen of Social Media, should anything less be expected?  Since she said yes I gathered my camera and digital recorder to learn how the self-described little, gawky girl, with thick coke-bottle glasses, from Shaker Heights became the woman that knows everyone and everyone else wants to know.

I was already settled into my spot in the coffeehouse as Susie walks in for our meeting being treated as if she were the Mayor, getting hugs from the baristas along with smiles and waves from the other customers.  She strolls over to my table looking as comfortable and unassuming as if she was walking through her living room; Susie is at home wherever she goes in Cleveland.  After a warm hug we sit and she immediately begins to update me on the event she just finished, The Mid West Reggae Fest.

Susie working the matching outfit and chair look
One of the most enthusiastic live music fans

“I can still kick the butts of any two twenty-eight year olds and I kicked them soundly this weekend,”  a boast that isn’t hard to accept from a grinning short haired, radiant blond looking refreshed after a weekend of promotion, camping and music.  It was more than just fun, Susie worked along with promoters of the weekend Reggae Festival to spread the word online and help build attendance, both a success.

The Reggae Festival was an easy connection for her, rhythm and music are obvious parts of Susie’s make-up.  Wherever live music is performed, look around for the party because that’s were you’ll find her, in the center of it all.  When asked where did this love of music come from, with great delight she shares stories about Gordon Sharp whom she reverently refers to as “Daddy”.  More than once at the end of the evenings show at Cleveland’s renowned Theatrical Grill or Nighttown Restaurant “Daddy” would invite jazz bands and their entourage back to the Sharps’ living room where they’d play ‘til dawn right underneath a young Susie’s bedroom.

It’s was “Daddy” who Susie also credits for her becoming a “people person” as well.

Susie working the phones to set up her next appointment
Always with her finger on the pulse

“We had a family business in blue- printing.  My grandfather  hired many people who were disabled physically or mentally; he was a big proponent of that.   When Daddy lost his arm at 25, that fell into the mix, so I grew up among people with different abilities and I never knew the difference.  Daddy raised me, partially because he grew up as a musician, that the guy that takes your suitcase at the hotel gets just as much respect, gets looked in the eye, get’s a handshake just like the President of a company.”

Those early lessons, taught to a young girl by her Dad, were the seeds that became Cleveland’s Queen of Social Media. Reaching out to people and becoming an early adopter of networking sites like LinkedIn, Susie found a tool to help workers to find jobs.  Using her instincts and ignoring the warnings that online networking was a fad that would fade in a few short months, Susie jumped into social media with both feet.  From that modest start Susie has created her own company, Social Zense Media, where she lectures and coaches others how to use social media tools to further their personal and organizational goals.

With all of her experiences, Susie understands that her strength is not as the head of a company or in musical terms the band leader.  Instead she sees herself as the first chair, the one that keeps the rest of the band in key, on time and in rhythm.

“Sooner or later in business you find yourself getting away from what you love, the thing that you went into business to do.  That’s were I’m good; I’m a good #2.  Sometimes the boss might want to take a break or go on vacation and I’m there to fill in.”

Susie never mentioned about taking a break herself, perhaps because she’s doesn’t need one, since being busy is what she loves.

Susie Sharp working social media magic for non-profits
A tireless worker and volunteer
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