Shannon Ingram's Place

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Location: Orange County/CA

Musings of a woman who left her corporate career to become a caregiver for elderly parents, wrote a book and found her way back to corporate - with love, instead of fear, leading the way. Now working at my Alma Mater, UC Irvine, as Marketing and Communications Director for the School of Biological Sciences.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor....Fabulous

Just a quick post to mark the passing of the amazing Elizabeth Taylor. I always loved her work and her gorgeous violet eyes. Can you imagine how excited I was on the morning of February 27th 1992 to learn that I was being called to work with the media at "the hub" at Disneyland for Elizabeth's 60th birthday party in Fantasyland (of course)! One of the Disneyland publicists was ill that day, so they contacted me to work the event. I remember that I was in a drab brown suit, so I rushed over to Main Place Mall and bought a purple suit to wear because I knew it was Elizabeth's favorite color. Then I got to stand by the Sleeping Beauty Castle drawbridge under the bright lights with my walkie-talkie and help a stream of stars exit from their carriages and classic cars. It was great fun to take the hands of Shirley MacClaine and Liz Smith, to greet my "old friend" from Hawaii, Tom Selleck, and his wife, Jilly, and to give directions to David Bowie and Iman who arrived with Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford.

The thing I remember most is Barry Manilow playing the piano and all of the guests, media and Disney cast members singing "Happy Birthday." I stood next to Geena Davis, who was very tall and had the most beautiful complexion I had ever seen. And of course, just seeing the tiny Elizabeth (with her then-hubby Larry Fortensky) basking in all the attention was awesome.

I found this link online to an article that was written the day after that great party when I literally wished on a star:

The fabulous Elizabeth Taylor will live on in my heart, that's for sure....

Friday, March 18, 2011

Nobody Calls Baby a Senior!

The language of getting old is about to be revolutionized by the Baby Boomers. Apparently we just don't like the words that have always been associated with "old." I participated in an American Society on Aging ( webinar yesterday titled, "Mature Women: What They Want and Need and Why You Should Care" presented by Helen Dennis and Laura Rossman.

I learned I was an "alpha daughter" to my late parents, that older women are still relatively invisible in the media and that Jane Fonda, who is still very visible in the media, has a new fitness program called "Sit and Strong." But what really caught my ear and eye was the part about mature women hating to be called "mature." The presenters admitted they were a bit perplexed about that because they have a "Mature Women" summit at the upcoming ASA Conference in April. I giggled in the muted privacy of my office. And then I started thinking about all the other "old stuff" we Boomers don't like being called.

When I was thirty-something, the AARP Magazine used to be called "Modern Maturity." I'd see it in my parents' mail basket. Now it's just called "The Magazine," albeit with a big AARP behind that title. Boomers don't like "senior" or "geriatric" either. We don't even like "retirement," although some of us like the idea of being retired. We loved the movie, "Cocoon," but we don't want to star in our own version of it. We're the "Not Ready for Senior Center Players" ready for our Saturday Night Live Close-up, except only Betty White seems to get that kind of attention. Neighborhood Center, yes. Senior Center, no.

One of the webinar presenters said businesses who want to attract Boomer women need to "watch your images." You need to know that we are single, married or partnered. We are "aging" but not "old." We're independent. We like to be pictured with our best friends, our adult children and grandchildren. We like to be recognized as financially savvy, healthy and educated....but not old. Maybe it's just a huge groundswell of denial, but I'm inclined to think it's a happy-face opportunity to create new words the way Boomers always have. We're not old, we're "WAY far out." Groovy.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Techie Tales

Today, it's really hard for me to believe that I left my brilliant hospitality and entertainment career 18 years ago to move to Denver and FIND technology. After 15 years of building a great reputation in travel and entertainment industry marketing in the Caribbean, Hawaii and California, I needed a reality check based on changing times. The NEW reality was technology and the opportunity was in Colorado where a mini-Silicon Valley was emerging. My husband wanted to move out of So CA and I agreed.

At that time I believed that anyone who really knew marketing could switch industries. That firm belief bubbled under my skin and truly propelled me from tourism to technology. There were no theme parks in Denver and I really didn't think my husband's work was going to take me to the ski resorts in the Colorado mountains. We were looking at life in Denver. Without a job and with little savings, I shopped at the Goodwill Store for winter suits and coats and enthusiastically applied to a wide variety of tech companies in the Denver area.

After three months of constant interviews with disappointing results, I finally had a couple of bites in May 1993. Those bites happened at the same time, of course, because that's how it always unfolds. One of the promising interviews was with a cable TV company that promised hundreds of channels in the near future, at a time when we only had seven or nine on local cable. The other job was with a "reseller" of computers and ancillary tech equipment. Back then all of the manufacturers' hardware was distributed to computer dealers by a handful of companies that specialized in distribution. The opportunity to work for a tech company that distributed computers, printers, networking equipment and software was something I couldn't turn down, and fortunately the woman I interviewed with who needed a MarCom pro really wanted me, probably because of my Disney experience. She offered me a job, thanks mostly to the recommendation of one of her staffers, and I became Alice in Wonderland.

I can't begin to elaborate on the fast-track experience of working for Intelligent Electronics (IE) in those days. It was MarCom beyond my wildest dreams. I had hit the mother-load of marketing energy and results, and the scary domain of what can and cannot be done legally with money that came from "vendors." I look back on it as the most exciting time of my life...until now, of course.

All this comes up for me because I watched Steve Jobs unveil the new iPad today. I noticed the news on an associate's monitor early this morning. Thoughts of the new technology, the new ways of "being" that amazing Steve Jobs introduces, played in my head as I worked. In the IE years, my Apple Rep, Nancy, was my favorite. And now, Tim, another IE icon and someone I loved working with, is one of Apple's senior executives, reporting directly to Steve. Notice I'm only dropping first names in these cases!

It's an honor and privilege to be associated with people who are really REALLY changing the world. That's how I feel about having met Steve Jobs and working to promote Apple years ago. And it's how I feel today to work for Silverado Senior Living. I took another big gamble three years ago when I decided to leap into a new career in health care. Amazingly, Silverado founders, Loren Shook and Steve Winner, won a big award for their new book this week and I will get to represent them at the Awards ceremony. "The Silverado Story - A Memory-Care Culture Where Love is Greater than Fear" won the award for Best Business Book of 2010 from the Los Angeles Book Festival. And today Steve Jobs debuted the iPad 2. Hopefully I'll get one of those very soon. It really is ALL GOOD!

Don't be afraid of embracing a totally new way of working, doing and being. That's the moral of this "techie tale." Jump on in!