Tuesday, March 29, 2011

BRAVO to MTV for their Anti-Bullying campaign!

I am so moved by this PSA on bullying/digital bullying. It was actually physically painful to watch, triggering flashbacks to my days in high school and all that daily harassment. Its a nice surprise twist that the entire scenario is occurring online-It's provocative and hip, thanks MTV for making this part of the conversation. It is touching to see progress and a proactive website with not just great information but that also poses challenging questions to youth.  I'm excited to see how this plays out, and get students' responses to it.  - Rich Kiamco

Today is my 43rd birthday and people have asked what I want / am doing.  what I'd like for my birthday is for people to know what bullying is, how it can affect people, and that if you can laugh, know that you will get through difficult times.  What once seems tragic may eventually be funny and/or motivating.  Stand up to bullying, "nice people" be careful of bullying pranks and jokes and work together towards a greater good. - Robert Strand

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Make Laughter Count is taking on a life of its own

By Robert Strand

Laughter is important to me, and I have a particular affection for puns. I did not inherit my father’s PhD in Organic Chemistry Brain, or his ability to fix just about anything, however one thing is clear – from a humor perspective, I am my father’s son. After graduating college, his advice to me entering the working world may be distilled to laugh, give back, and if the person sitting next to you on an 18 hour flight is making you nuts, change seats.
I moved to New York, determined to “make it there”. My mother and aunt grew up in New York, so I called my aunt for advice. She said, “go to Macy’s, they’ll hire anybody”. At first, I wasn’t sure how to take that. The next day I was hired to sell women’s shoes. Having had a sister with long narrow feet, I built a large and diverse customer base of women with the ‘odd’ size shoe. See a need and fill it.

As per my bio, I am “recognized creative brand strategist and concept activator with 19 years of intellectual property rights management, licensing, marketing, product & content development, and buying experience”. Really what I do is put the right people together to accomplish great stuff. I have learned that when you put your mind, creativity and passion and network into something, you can make anything happen. And, when you hit a groove, it’s almost as if the universe gets behind you with high octane fuel for support.
In my last year of corporate employment, I brokered 35 million in new business. My reward? I was outsourced. Truth is it had grown unfulfilling. The universe told me that chapter was out of gas.

I started out on my own on Christmas day 2008. I decided to focus on brands and partnerships that revolve around active lifestyles, health, well-being and education. Staring blankly at my LinkedIn profile, I noticed that companies had created alumni groups for current and former employees to stay connected. Some of the places I had worked, I noticed did not have a very ‘robust’ following. However, one was missing – The NBA – so I created an NBA group which today has over 1300 members. I spent 5 amazing years in the league’s NY headquarters. Despite not being blessed with eye-hand coordination – I hit a groove, had a lot of laughs, had an impact on the business and young staff, built amazing relationships and left to work for a team owner. People joke that the NBA stands for “Nothing But Attorneys” – for me it was “Nothing But Amazing”.

Amazing is now what has been missing from my life. Don’t get me wrong, I have a wonderful and loving partner, family, and with my business I am involved in rewarding work with wonderful people and brands. I give back by serving on the Board of Directors for my trade association (www.licensing.org) – where I Co-Chair our Charity Committee – We have raised over $2.5mm to launch a tissue bank to help find new treatments and a cure for pediatric brain tumors (www.cbtf.org). All of this is incredibly enriching. Yet, for me, amazing has been a void. Until now.

I recently met up with my old friend and comic, Rich Kiamco. As we were catching up, an idea was born. You may soon read the full story on www.makelaughtercount.com – and in short, we wanted to integrate comedy into education in a meaningful way – and have an impact in a realistic, tangible way. Through Rich’s work with comic Jessica Kirson, we met Shari Manko. It was almost like the universe said “OMG what has taken you three so long to connect!” We wanted to build awareness of bullying – through comedy in an aspirational way – to show people that those who throw dirt are sure to lose ground (one gratuitous pun…).

Rich, Shari and I have created Make Laugher Count. Our goal is to create a bully free world with funny people, funny stories through opportunities to laugh, learn – while also helping raise funds for charities - - because everyone deserves a positive, safe space in which to live their dreams.

Tune back in to hear more – and tune in Thursday March 17, 2011, at 9 PM ETt to hear all about Make Laughter Count’s interview with “Mojovator” Danielle Hawthorne (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/mojovator) speak with Rich, Shari and me in the first interview in a 2-part series that will focus on reactions to the recent Bullying Prevention Conference held at the White House last week as well as delve into the MLC mission.

Make Laughter Count is taking on a life of its own – a life that Rich, Shari and I are committed to raising. I have changed my thinking about only making “my” life count. A wise woman (and our publicist Kathy Horn) recently said, “The work you do on earth will fade away but the lives you touch will leave eternal fingerprints.”

So, with this all said, I say live, love, learn, and MAKE LAUGHTER COUNT!!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Comments on White House Bullying summit

makeLAUGHTERct  twitter

 i think the largest challenge is cultivating a culture of respect,
 i love the idea of posting CORE VALUES on all the walls of the school, beginning from DAY one, setting the tone.

I did NOT have this growing up, it was always tattletales and snitching,
and sometimes getting the bully punished IF you had the guts to speak up,

but even worse, the  repercussions of snitching=MORE BULLYING ugh.. It just perpetuated the silence

Today simple tools will be the challenge, and also getting the entire faculty to implement, and to collaborate w students and families to have consistent policy.

I love when I hear about schools having BULLYING AWARENESS WEEK, early in the school year.. Great idea, im curious as to how effective ti is, I think the younger you start the better, older students just find ways to sneak it

Creating bystander awareness is key -peopel who witness and stay silent, have great power to speak up and say that not OK,
we never even thought about bystanders when i grew up
everyone jstu stared in silence, or joined in the laughin teasing

I still get notes on facebook from my childhood classmates saying how they admired me from afar, how brave I was to be myself, even before I came out,
I was  different:, asian, and not a tough kid, just a brainy artsy nonconforming kid, an easy bully target.
oh i and i dressed like culture club, duran duran and flock of seagulls, all at the same time.. bully paradise..
im thrilled that students have this summit today -
i still think of my HS classmate who was closeted and could not deal with the peer pressure,and committed suicide,
wish he was here today to see this summit

From facebook live cyberbullying discussion
“radical idea to me as a youth” [even as adult]” it is “NOT WEAK to ask for help”


just got a text from INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE!!!
our publicist KATHY HORN has just entered into the White House BULLYING PREVENTION SUMMIT today!, woohoo!


our national tour is making political contacts to create change
and bring education through laughter and entertainment to our planet

you can watch the presidents closing address

please go to our page and LIKE us

and follow us on twitter

Tomorrow President Obama and First Lady host Anti-Bullying Conference at the White House

How Exciting!
The Obama's are holding a conference directly addressing Bullying. A landmark moment in history for everyone -could it be that our administration is proactively working to create a safer world for everyone? regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, perceived orientation and gender expression?

I never thought I would see something like this addressed by any president when I was growing up, in fact, even my parents wouldn't address it, or at least, I didn't have the tools to confront what was happening when I was a young queer kid, of color in small suburban Illinois.
One time bricks/rocks were thrown through the window w/ graffiti and trash strewn everwhere and the mailbox smashed. Horrific haunting feeling when I recall standing in the front yard with a bat, hoping for the vandals to return.

Whenever I speak or perform at a college or a high school, i see into students eyes and i see hope, despite the horrors that still exist today, at least I know when i tell a story or a joke and make people laugh or think, there's a chance that they will not have to go through what I did, and my work is done..
here's a link for tomorrow's event

changing lives, one joke at a time