As I mentioned yesterday, I’m on vacation (and less than 24 hours from hiking Pike’s Peak!) so I’m being semi-lazy.

Following are my #FollowFriday lists for the past six weeks.

I love #FollowFriday on Twitter. It’s fun to see what crazy things people will say about you (i.e. @StayBankdotCom today said people should follow me because I put words in people’s mouths for a living…to which I responded “SPIN SUCKS!”).

But there also is some backlash happening because it turns out that most people just type in as many Twitter handles as they can in 140 characters and there is no reason behind why people should follow someone being recommended. My friend @BillTamminga hates #FollowFriday (which is fun for me because I taunt him about it). My friend @Area224 also hates it because there is no rhyme or reason. He told me last week he was grouped with John Mayer and John Legend. Why? No clue.  So he has created #tlist in order to give real reason for following people…and I’m copying him here (hey – it’s the most sincere form of flattery!).

@DanielHindin I met Dan a few weeks ago in person – he’s as funny and charming as he is online. And if you follow him, you can join #embarrassdanielhindin, just because it’s fun.

@SamBroberg Sam is in the hospitality world and maintains three different Twitter handles (which makes me laugh when I get tweets from his “multiple personalities”). He’s not afraid to find common ideals with his followers, and engage them. Plus, he just had to put his dog to sleep so he deserves some TLC right now.

@EconomyHeroes is a Vistage member and finds great reasons to tweet about people who show they’re helping to turn around our economy.

@Keith_Shay Keith is a Vistage member and one of my dearest friends in real life. If you read our tweets, you’d think we don’t like one another, but we really do. Well, I really like him.

@LauraJDaley Laura was in town a few weeks ago and @JuliBarcelona and I had dinner with her. She brought us both gifts (books!) because it was Juli’s birthday. Also follow Juli because she is a natural introvert who pushes herself out of her comfort box and does so with absolute grace.

@Hollisthomases is a Vistage member and she thinks I have a clone because I tweet efficiently. Maybe you can help me give her tips!

@PaulSegreto is in the franchise industry and writes a blog that is wicked smart, called FranchisEssentials.

@CesLSU is an avid cyclist, workout machine, and he teaches a Mt. Everest SPIN class in Houston. I’ve managed to talk him into teaching it in Chicago when he’s here in June.

@JackMonson is in the franchise industry and is a salesguy you can’t help but love…even though he didn’t bring snacks when he was in our offices yesterday.

@Luiserpa is one of those guys that is brilliant and hilarious all at once. Plus his accent makes me laugh constantly.

@Gofurther likes to harrass me about working out because he used to work in the personal training world. Now he’s a brilliant customer relationship person who has fascinating views on the digital user experience.

@4thGear Randy is a Vistage speaker who lives in Charlotte. I’ve never met him in person, but I hear he’s extremely smart. I like him on Twitter because his online reputation matches what people say about him in real life.

@AceConcierge Suzie was one of my first followers and she always helps me clean my desk when needed (by sending me photos of ardvarks – maybe you have to be there). But she’s a virtual assistant and someone I refer business to if someone needs a VA.

@LorriW Lorri is a client and the COO at Computer Explorers. I’ve gotten to know her a lot better on Twitter and Facebook and love her sense of humor!

@DebCE Deb is the CEO of Computer Explorers. Deb and I met more than two years ago when she was visiting Chicago. She and I hit it off immediately and we’ve been working with them since…plus she’s become a very dear friend.

@Julito77 Julio is in my posse…one of those guys I can always turn to if I need help and he wouldn’t ask any questions. I try not to hold it against him that he’s a Red Sox and Celtics fan.

@BMAMan Blair is a Vistage member and a close friend. When I told him he should get on Twitter, he did – in full force! He’s a very successful business man who pretends he’s just a country bumpkin.

@SarahRobinson Oh Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. She is one of my all-time favorites on Twitter. She’s the creator of #TweepleTuesday and was one of the first I followed. She and I will figure out a way to work together someday!

@EstherSteinfeld This young lady does PR for and she created NotAllCEOsAreJerks.  She has that innate understanding of how true communiation (not publicity) is handled. She’s going to go far!

@AdrianDayton Adrian grew up in Utah (my homestate, too) so I have a natural inclination toward liking him. He now lives in Buffalo, is an attorney, and is building a business to help young lawyers learn how to rainmake for their firms.

@Jlipschultz Jeff and I immediately hit it off because we’re both Cubs fans (though he lives in Dallas) and we both cycle.  I keep telling him to come ride with me, but I’m pretty sure he’d kick my butt. And I’m a sore loser.

@AbbyHarenberg Abby and I met on Twitter and developed a relationship. She did all of the Arment Dietrich professional photos (see them here) and I’ve never been more pleased!

@TimJahn Tim did an interview with us a couple of months ago (see it here) that showcased our culture brilliantly. He’s really good and now I like hanging out with him, too.

@hbrumleve Harry and his wife @erinbrumleve are my closest friends in real life. They live in Denver and I try to vist as often as possible.

@Scott_Farrell Scott and I became friends when he joined the PRSA board a couple of years ago. He’s one of those guys you want to have around because he’s smart, willing to help, and freaking hilarious!

@DelWilliams I don’t remember now how Del and I met, but I love her. She and I do interviews together quite often…mostly to see if we can refrain from laughing while we tape (listen to the latest one here).

@joyfulbathco Rochel was one of my first followers and she’s endeared herself to me since day one. She makes and sells bath salts that have some magical elixir in them. When I have lactic acid in my muscles, the salts magically loosen them.

@LenKendall Len is one of those guys who has a great reputation online. I met him in person for the first time yesterday and he’s one of the few whose personality matches what you think it is online. He’s a special one, that Len.

@HeyClay I met Clay through @justinthesouth because they work together. It’s fun having a mole in Asheville, N.C.

@justinthesouth I’ll never forget that I was in Tampa when Justin and I debated about auto follows on Twitter. Since then, we’ve become as good as friends you can be without meeting someone in real life. Soon, I hope!

@Katjaib I’m not sure how she does it, but this one knows exactly how to make me laugh. Hard. And out loud.

@JeannieCW Jeannie and I have a weird small world thing going on. Her college roommate and I worked together at the beginning of our careers. She also worked with @luiserpa and @gofurther. To boot…she’s a Vistage member and worked with @BLFarris, who I also worked with a couple of years ago.

@BLFarris has one of those infectious laughs. When he laughs, you can’t help but laugh. Plus he’s a great business coach. He always knows how to say, “Stop doing that!”

@jeffmello Ahhhh…Mello. Jeff is co-founder of BuzzCal and one of the most engaging people I’ve met on Twitter. He’s a keeper and I get to meet him in person in July!

@modishplum Jeana is just a must – she’s funny, she’s cute, she’s tiny, and she is the best mom. I heart her tons.

@angelica7641 Angelica is moving to Chicago and that news made my entire year. That’s how much I love this girl!

@PeteTheTapeWorm When my season cycling began in full force again in March, I started complaining that my stomach had a mind of its own.  For those of you who know me well, you know I name everything…including my stomach. I’ve been referring to it as Pete for the past four months. Yesterday he joined Twitter. The best part about it? It’s not me tweeting for him. He truly does have a mind of his own.

@hooshy I am so embarrassed to say that I missed Hooshy on my very first #FollowFriday list! She’s one of my dear friends IRL and she escaped my typing fingers. She is one the cool kids who has zero ego.  It is so much fun to be around her because she’s witty, she’s brilliant, she has great life experience, and she never sugar coats anything. Plus she’s drop-dead gorgeous. So all you single boys out there, line up…she’s not going to be available for long!

@StraightFacePro I haven’t known Patrick very long, but it feels like I’ve known him forever. He’s really smart and truly understands how to use both offline and online vehicles to create and foster relationships. Straight Face Productions teaches companies how to use their brands to connect with their audiences….through comedy.

@Griner David is a blogger for AdFreak and I met him when I blogged about our email ban a few weeks ago. He’s a Mizzou grad  and lives in Birmingham, which means we have A LOT of the same friends. With Griner, it’s one degree of separation. Give him some love today; he just lost his father-in-law.

@Welahloo Welah is my RT BFF and another close Toronto friend. I feel like I should move there, as many friends as I have there. Welah is a great connector and engager; one of those people who never forgets to say hello.

@Smashadv Jim is a seriously funny guy (I mean, today he tweeted “The Chick-fil-A girl is definitely flirting with me”) who runs an ad agency. I love following him because he thinks outside of the box and isn’t afraid to tell everyone what he’s trying and how it works. I’ve learned a lot from him about creativity and innovation in just a few months.

@NancyMyrland Nancy is another “one degree of separation” person because I know at least three of her IRL friends. She lives in Indianapolis, but spends quite a bit of time in Chicago (who can blame her?). She helps law firms and attorneys market and grow.

@ananewsflash It’s weird to me that I have a personal relationship with Arizona Newspaper Association because a) I don’t live there and b) an association is not a person. But Perri does a great job of bringing the brand to life (you can also find her at @perricollins) and always makes me laugh with weather and food updates.

@shiftworldwide Whenever I see Paul’s avatar pop into my Twitter stream, I think he’s going to be all buttoned-up and serious (look at his avatar – it’s very nice and professional!). But he’s very funny! I somehow have created a bunch of friends in the law field and Paul is one of those. He trains attorneys and is apparently very good at it. So check him out if you’re in the field!

@MollyBlock Molly was one of my very first followers and I miss her if I don’t talk to her daily. She’s one of my Houston contingent (I’ll get down there soon!) and also a fellow communication expert.

@bconrey Brian works for Vistage, but not in the communication department, which is where I spend most of my time in that organization. He is one of the smartest people I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with lately and he has amazing vision. If you can get him on the phone for 10 minutes, I suggest taking advantage. He has an amazing ability to take a situation, analyze it, and give you advice that makes sense instataneously.

@brwney I connected with Renee immediately because of our mutual love of cupcakes. She’s a fellow Chicagoan and foodie. I suggest following her for new ideas and great food conversation!

@AmyNichols I initially met Amy on Twitter because she’s in the franchise industry. She’s the CEO of Dogtopia (dog daycare), who is passionate about dog rescue and education. So she’s a woman, she’s a CEO, she works in the same industry we do, and she loves dogs? No brainer. Follow her.

@GinaAbudi I met Gina through my Vistage connections and have since gotten to know her as a wicked smart leader! She has a really good blog (see it here) about leadership, but sprinkles in polls, stats, and guest bloggers that help define a great business tool.

@TheDataDoc I met Ken on Twitter because of our mutual work in the franchise industry. Since then, he’s given me great technology advice and I’ve helped him with social media. In fact, I got to introduce his keynote speech to the @CETeam conference, via video, last Saturday. He’s one of those guys that does it all – runs a business, has a radio show…and he loves wine.

@ediegalley I love Edie because she never forgets her Twitter friends. A couple of weeks ago I was offline during #TweepleTuesday and she made a point to find me and make sure I was okay. She goes by the “U Can! Queen” which means she helps people be all they can be. She just plain old rocks.

@jsandford I got to know Jamie when his wife came to Chicago and he wanted to surprise her and her friends. He looked up a few of us and asked for advice on restaurants, spas, and clubs. How can you not love a man that takes that much time to show his wife how much he loves her? Since then, he’s debated me about my blog topics and keeps me on my toes. He’s a great follow!

@valoremlamb I was introduced to Patrick via one of my attorney friends and you know how they say social media attracts like-minded people? That’s what happened with Patrick. He’s since met with my team and there seems to be a love fest going on. Now we’re going to have a contest to see whose firm is the coolest, culture-wise. You might want to follow him, just to watch me beat him.

@shawnrecruits4u Shawn is an “old-fashioned cold calling recruiter” as he calls himself. Funny thing is, he’s figured out how to use social networks to recruit. He’s a great contact to have, especially if you’re looking for a job in this crazy economy.

@franchiseshow Well, I’m the new co-host of The Franchise Show (to be heard every Friday at 5:00 CST) and this is our Twitter handle. It’s mostly handled by @MolliMegasko on our behalf, but we’re going to get it to the point that you can ask questions here for the show. Get in on the ground floor!

@JonathanManske I met Jonathan in Denver before I started following him. It was February and he was raising money for cancer research…with the ultimate goal of shaving his head when he reached his fudiciary responsibility. I liked him instantly. He’s smart. He’s witty. And he’s genuinely nice.

@SuzieBilek Suzie used to work for me and she is one of those young ladies you can’t help but like. She is always willing to go the extra mile and she never complains. In her new job, she is optimistic and entertaining. She’s a voracious reader and gets you excited about what she’s reading. She’s one to watch.

@TheRedHeadSaid Charlene and I first connected on Twitter because of our mutual liking of cupcakes and, especially, icing. Now I find her smart, extremely thoughtful, and very witty in her philosophical tweets.

@ObrianW Obrian is a partner in BidMyCleaning, which I think is one of the most brilliant online businesses I’ve seen in a long time. It might be because finding a cleaning lady is really hard to do or because I believe in outsourcing everything you don’t like to do or aren’t good at doing, but it’s a business to keep an eye on.

@AlexParker Alex used to work for me, until he decided he wanted to go to the University of Kansas to get a master’s degree in journalism. Now he’s back in Chicago and writing for the Chi-Town Daily News. I love to chat with him about what PR people are doing, in terms of pitching him. He never understands why he gets pitches via email…probably because we teach here that pitching a reporter without a relationship is a waste of their time and your reputation. Keep that in mind if you ever want him to write something for you. He’s more critical than most.

@CandiceStone Candice also is a partner at BidMyCleaning and she does their PR for them. I first met her when I asked @ObrianW who was doing their PR because I was really impressed with what they were doing. Now she’s become someone I love to chat with, and exchange ideas.

@LorneFisher Even though Lorne is a competitor, he is one of the smartest PR pros I know. I met him in a person a couple of months ago and we have the same philosophy on communication – if you aren’t affecting profitable business growth, you aren’t doing your job. His firm, Fish Consulting, is one to watch!

@JoeGangwish Joe and I go back a loooong way! I was working at Rhea & Kasier and we hosted trade media at an event at Caterpillar. Joe came to Omaha for the event on Sept. 10, 2001. He and I were in the Caterpillar cafeteria watching the World Trade Center crumble the very next day. Since then he’s become a very good friend and it’s fun to see him out in the Twitter world, which he uses to update his listeners from his radio station. He’s doing a great job of connecting and engaging with his audience (and those others of us who follow him, just to make fun of the tractor pulls he attends).

@Bmaldonado I met Barbara a few months ago when she was putting together a TweetUp and asked if I would help. Because I love to meet new people and because it’s nearly impossible for me to say no, I moved ahead with her. But she killed the event. Not only did she pull it all together flawlessly (I just showed up), she had great ideas for Crowdsourcing and really knew how to get people motivated. If you’re in Chicago and you don’t know her, make a point to meet her.

@TomSearcy I met Tom when he spoke to my Vistage group a year ago. He is, by far, one of my favorite speakers. He really helped me think through when it’s appropriate for me to go to new business meetings and when it’s more appropriate to send someone from my team. The work he does with executive teams on business development is the best I’ve ever seen.

@EvolutionShift David is another Vistage speaker, though one I’ve not yet heard. I have, however, read his book and have had the pleasure of talking with him, one-on-one, about the future and what it means for the PR industry. In fact, he’s featured in our next newsletter because he’s a futurist I really believe in.

@1800GOTJUNK I met Travis (or Touchdown, as his colleagues call him) on Twitter a few weeks ago, but he has quickly become one of my daily conversations. He does PR for the Western states for 1800GOTJUNK, but he also is the social media champion for the company. He knows how to connect and engage…and make you feel like you’re the only person he’s chatting with. If you get in good with him, I’ll bet he’ll tell you some of his CEO’s secrets. You want that. His CEO is SMART!

@kimdhbutler I met Kim through @SuzieBilek’s boss and instantly liked her. She has a business called Mountaintops that helps people think about their financial security for the rest of their life. She’s not about which stocks to invest in or which bonds to buy. She helps you envision your future and then map out a plan to get you there. Plus she’s one of the smartest people I know.

@hriefs Howard and I serve on the PRSA Chicago board together and run around in the same circle. One of the things I love about connecting with Howard on Twitter is that he always does an economy analysis, based on the lines at Starbucks. It makes me laugh really hard…and he’s usually right.

@pjdixon77 Patrick works in the office building next door to me and I’ve never met him! It’s a crying shame that we know each other on Twitter, but not in real life. Follow him. Then tell him to come visit me.

@tastidlite BJ Emerson is the brain behind the Tasti D-Lite social media brand. I have ALWAYS been impressed with what he’s been able to do for the brand, including driving new customers and engaging brand loyalty. If there are any social media experts in such a short amount of time, BJ is one. Keep an eye on what he is doing.

@CETeam Computer Explorers is a client so I’m biased, but I love what they’re doing to engage their franchisees on Twitter (and we’re not doing it for them!). @DebCE and @LorriW use this branded handle to communicate news daily. They are light years ahead of what their competition, or other franchisors, are doing. And if you’re not following Deb or Lorri already, you should. They both freaking rule, just in general.

@simasays I met Sima a few years ago and instantly hit it off with her. She is a strong, independent woman who has her own business and wants to take over the world. You know what they say about liked-minded people attracting one another. She has a great blog that is always informative (see it here), but she also is the creator of MarketingJobWire and is a super smart marketer.

@BestRoofer I met Joe on Twitter because he is a Vistage member. But I continue to follow and engage with him because he’s smart and he always has really smart leadership advice to give. If you want to enhance your skills as a leader, listen to what he has to say.

@singtammi I freaking love Tammi! She is one of those people that has so much charm and charisma that you can’t help but be attracted to her and want to spend time with her. After I talk to her on the phone, I am always energized and ready to take on the day. She has a business called The Instinctive Life, which helps people finds their passions so they can monetize them and be happy in life. Plus she calls me by the name my mom calls me…and I love her for it.

@wiskup I met Mark when he spoke to my Vistage group three years ago. He’s one of the best communication professionals I know…and really knows how to tell you like it is. Even though I spend all of my days communicating, he still knows how to help make me better. Plus, he has a new book coming out this fall, “Don’t Be that Boss,” that every manager must read!

@jonesdel Del is the leadership reporter for USA Today. But if that’s not enough, he’s one of the nicest reporters I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with.  Now PR people, that doesn’t mean you should go on and pitch him right now! He knows what is a story and he doesn’t want to be bothered by mundane stuff just because I said he’s nice.  But if you do pitch him, and it is a story, he will get back to you…even if it’s not right when you send the email.

@CharPennyAnn Char did some work for us in 2008. Cold calling. Can you imagine a worse job? But she did it with a smile, with enthusiasm, and she introduced us to some great leads! She still does that…from her home office in Seattle, should you need a great cold caller!

@NatSlavin I met Nat almost accidentally at a TweetUp in Chicago a few months ago. Our mutual friend @SarahRobinson told me the day of the TweetUp that he was going to be there and I should look him up.  He does marketing for law firms and is one of the smartest marketers I know. He’s a must…especially if you’re in the legal field.

@AbbieF I met Abbie through Counselors Academy a few years ago and she quickly has become one of my dearest friends. She’s a PR pro, a great business leader, and she’s just darn funny. Plus her dog @VivaDog is on Twitter, too!

@MelanieGreen Talk about a small world. Melanie is a client of Nat’s. She also is one of Abbie’s best friends. Needless to say, it was imperative we meet. Melanie is a chief marketing offier for a law firm and she lives in Indianapolis. She makes it Chicago every couple of months so, if you live here, follow her and you’ll get to meet her someday!

@Big_Teeth I recently was invited to a BBQ at Gregg’s business. He makes videos. Really good ones. And he won Super Bowl tickets (which I’m still trying to steal) in a poker tournament.  If you ever need a video made, you must call them!

@SEOCopy Last week I forgot my favorite dual personality in Gabriella and @Level343. Somehow she’s managed to not only engage with @luiserpa and me, but also to endear herself to us forever. If you need help with search engine optimization, she’s your gal!

@Rieva I met Rieva in San Diego in January and became fast friends. She’s one of those women you automatically admire. Her resume is immpecable (think Entrepreneur editor) and she now freelances. Her biggest gig is with and she knows what she’s doing. She just launched the franchise blog there and is one to watch. Plus, if you ever need writing help, call her!

@Nylons I don’t know where to begin with Nancy. She is the funniest person I know in real life. She knows how to take an ordinary situation and make it extraordinary. She is the CEO of Clockwork, a Web firm she started with a couple of musician friends. Now the firm is the best in Minneapolis (maybe in the entire Midwest) and I’m proud to call her a friend, client, and partner.

@RickBakas Rick is one of those guys that has a zillion Twitter followers and when you meet him you think you’re going to get the distant “I don’t really know who you are” look. But he is a true engager, on Twitter and in real life. He’s entered in a contest to be the Murphy-Goode winery blogger/tweeter and you should vote for him here!

@KendallThiessen Kendall is one of the first “relationships” I developed on Twitter. You want to know why? He teased me about my Neil Diamond pick on blip. That endeared him to me immediately. He lives in Denver and I get to see him often, because I’m there so much.

@JazzLifeJunkie Other than wanting to take over Twitter with me (we know how to monetize it!), Kevin is a great wine friend. He sends me links to wines and is even bringing me a bottle when he crashes wine:thirty in a few weeks! Plus, he’s worth the follow just to read his blog post on the Twilight series.

@TimNagle I was immediately interested in what Tim had to say on Twitter because he’s a Duct Tape professional, which is very intriguing to me. Those guys came out of nowhere and then built a network of pros that teach their methodology. Turns out Tim IS very interesting, but also just an all around nice guy. If you’re nice to him, he’ll let you see video of his daughter playing basketball, which is to die for cute.

@FoiledCupcakes If for no other reason but that her cupcakes RULE! They are seriously the best I’ve had…AND she delivers to the greater Chicagoland area. Follow, follow, follow!

@LoisatVistage I somehow have friends with dual personalities because Lois also is @CaliLois. I haven’t figured out what the difference is between the two so sometimes I just rotate who I tweet. I met Lois because she’s a client, but she quickly became a very good friend. She’s a young lady who is going places. Keep an eye on her!

@AmberCadabra I’m almost afraid to tell people that Amber is a friend of mine in real life…even before she was a big deal on Twitter. Why, you ask? Because she’s such a celebrity, that people will innundate me asking for an introduction. So follow her. Engage with her. But make sure it’s smart, sarcastic, and witty…or she may not respond back. That or she’s traveling (I think she’s gone something like 25 days a month!) and just hasn’t had a chance to connect.

@ElizWeiland Another Denver friend who also loves cupcakes, baking, and wine. She is a friend of Kendall’s, which is how we connected in the first place. She’s an entrepreneur trying to change the world. See if you can help her!

@Nuk3Dawg Green Team! Roger is the leader of the green team and we win at everything! He’s worth the follow…if only because his bio is hilarious!

@WhenGrowthStall I had the immense pleasure of meeting Steve in person earlier this week. He gave the keynote at a conference I attended. He owns an ad agency in Albuquerque, he’s written a book (”When Growth Stalls“), and he’s a Vistage speaker. He’s one of those guys that is super successful, but as down-to-earth as they come!

@KelleyMoore My dancing Dallas friend who I met on Twitter because we’re both members of Vistage. She makes me laugh really hard because, like @modishplum, after 15 years of marriage is still undeniably in love with her husband. She is an entrepreneur and business owner – she provides tools for personal and professional success.

@ShirleyBrady I got to know Shirley via the old-fashioned way – EMAIL!  She’s the content editor and one of the nicest people I know…especially for a New Yorker. This one knows how to make you feel like you’re the only person important to her, which is saying a lot considering all of the egos she must deal with on a daily basis. Plus her daughter stories make me laugh really hard!

@dblazek Diane is our newly minted president – she now runs the organization so I can be off being a crazy entrepreneur. Never have I worked with someone so laid back, easy-going, and not resistant to change in the least. She is always willing to try new things, beats herself up appropriately when something doesn’t work, and is ALWAYS pleasant to work with. I’ve never seen her say a cross word or look or act grouchy. She always jumps in to help me when I have too much on my plate, and knows exactly when to say, “I know you need help.” She also is not afraid to pick up the phone and cold call someone. She rocks!

@ChristineHeim3 Christine came to us as an intern, jeez, more than a year ago. When she decided she wanted to work with us full-time, I had THREE people from other companies tell me they were sad to see her not choose them.  Off on the right foot, to say the least! She is a great writer and a thoughtful colleague. She has a sense of humor that is so silly it’s funny. She’s always willing to go the extra mile and do more than is expected.

@ThomasShort2334 Tom also started with as an intern two years ago. He was in a summer intern group that was highly competitive and we had a really hard time deciding which one of his group to hire full-time. We had each of them present the reasons they should get the job and Tom rose to the top. When you talk about a team player, Tom is who comes to mind. He’s always in a good mood. In fact just this morning he said, “Gini! Let’s get this day started! I’m ready.” He’s a great motivator, even to me.

@JenThomas1116 Jen is a Cincinnati native who came to us last fall. When she interviewed, I was out of the office and our managing director called me and said, “We cannot let this one walk out the door. Do you think it’s alright if I chain her to a desk now?” Needless to say, I agreed we had to have Jen when I interviewed her. Since then she has earned the respect of some of our longest-term clients…clients who typically wouldn’t work with anyone but me. Now they never call me, which is the biggest compliment a CEO can get about someone on their team.

@TanyaFlynn Tanya has such a great mix of experience: Both agency (big and small) and client side. Tanya is one of those people that you look at and think, “I wish I’d thought to do that.” She’s a verocious reader and uses what she reads for innovative ideas that help advance our client’s businesses. If we could pay her just to come up with ideas all day, that would be money well spent!

@AngelaLoiacono When Angela interviewed here more than two years ago, everyone started calling her Scoop because she had such great media relations experience before she even graduated from college. She is one of the most organized people I’ve ever met…she puts even me (I’m OCD) to shame. She is one of those people that you know you can ask to do something, even though she already has a ton on her plate, and she’ll get it finished…and on time.

@CourtLawrence We interviewed Courtney as a favor to a friend of mine…and fell in love with her. She comes from the non-profit world and can put on an event like no one’s business. In the time that she’s been here, I’ve watched her become a professional presenter and someone who has earned respect of colleagues and clients as being smart and effective.

@MolliMegasko Molli was one of my very first employees, who started as an intern. She’s quickly risen through the ranks because of her willingness to change. She’s not at all risk-adverse and she’s seen us go from four employees to a multi-million firm. She understands the vision and works every, single day to help us get there. She’s always thinking of ideas to create collaboration, she’s highly creative, and she loves graphs and charts almost more than I do. She’s extremely results-oriented and takes it personally when something doesn’t go the way she thought it would.

@PattiKnight Before I hired an assistant, I couldn’t imagine what one would do for me full-time. Now, a year later, I don’t know how I lived without Patti. She, literally, is my brain. People ask me all the time if I can meet with them and I honestly can’t tell them yes or no. She knows what I’m doing before I do. A business coach once told me, “You deserve an assistant.” I certainly don’t know what I did to deserve Patti, but now I know I would die without her.

And my Counselors Academy friends:

@tg123 Tom has a PR firm in Albuquerque, home to my favorite Mexican food. He is one of those guys you like immediately…and want to tease incessantly. It might be because, when I met him, @WhenGrowthStall was teasing him and it set the stage. He claims to be a bubblegum purveyor. I don’t know what that means, but maybe he’ll tell me now. Check out his firm’s site here.

@LisaGerber Lisa was a Counselors Academy “newbie” this year and immediately gained our love. She wasn’t afraid to jump in and talk to people she didn’t know, and was happy to join a big group of us for dinner on the first night. I love her because she’s a skier and a cyclist. Now if she just lived closer. Check our her firm’s site here.

@AbbieF I’ve recommended people follow Abbie before because I LOVE her! She is what public relations represents – smart, strategic, kind, without ego, and straight-forward. With Abbie you never get any spin. She’s in Phoenix at HMA. You can check out her firm’s site here.

@Scott_Farrell I’m lucky to be growing a communication business in Chicago, the land of the big agencies. Some would think that’s not so lucky, but I have access to the best and the brightest minds in the industry, without having to pay their huge salaries. That’s how it is with Scott. He and I have served on the PRSA Chicago board together for a couple of years now. We’ve become very good friends, mostly because we think the same and can bounce ideas, issues, and challenges off one another. Even though everyone probably already knows Golin-Harris, you can check out their site here.

@MartinWaxman Martin is, by far, my favorite Canadian PR person. He is one of the most funny people, online and in real life, people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. He’s an author, a comedian, and a wicked smart communciation strategist. He’s as down-to-earth as they come and someone everyone should know. See his firm’s site here.

@BenHWheatley Even though you might follow Ben from this, he may not follow you back, just because I convinced him to get on Twitter two weeks ago. We downloaded Tweetie to his iPhone so he’ll at least know you’re following him. Ben and I work on the Counselors Academy committee together; so much so that @JRHipple calls us Frick and Frack. Ben is in Houston and just launched his own PR firm (yes, in this economy). Check out his site here.

@JRHipple Speaking of J.R. … J.R. lives in Atlanta, he’s really tall, and very distinguished-looking. He’s one of those men that looks kind, but you’re intimidated to talk to because he has such a presence and charisma when he walks into the room. But he’s not intimidating at all. In fact, he is a Southern gentleman who is witty and smart and fun to hang around. Check out his site here.

@JayBaer Jay isn’t in the PR industry, but he helps PR firms develop social media strategies for their clients. He spoke at Counselors Academy this year and everything he said, I just kept nodding my head. He knows what he’s doing so if you ever need help, I suggest you look him up here. Plus, his business card is a bottle opener so it’s worth meeting him just for that.

@EliseMitch Elise was the Counselors Academy Chair this year and put together the entire conference. Her team says she’s a force to be reckoned with, and no truer statement has ever been made. I’ve never seen a conference come together so quickly and so well. And…she’s one of the best speakers I’ve ever heard. She can get up in front of a crowd with such ease and really motivate them. She’s a runner and loves her motorcycle. The only thing going against her is she lives in Arkansas (alright, alright…Bill Clinton is from there too). Check out her firm’s site here.

@ShelbyO Michelle and I hit it off because we’re both cyclists and there aren’t many women who run businesses AND ride at the levels we ride. We rode together at this year’s conference and it was the most fun ride I’ve had. I probably shouldn’t make this public, but we were having so much fun that we missed the breakfast we paid for and the first session, just so we could ride a bit longer. Michelle also has a really successful business in Phoenix. She made an acquisition last year and did it with such grace that it was never apparent the other firm was ever not a part of them. See her firm here.

@RAReed I met Bob in Naples last year…even though he has a PR firm in Chicago. And I only ever see him at Counselors Academy, but it’s as if we saw each other just yesterday. Maybe that’s because we talk online all the time.  See his firm here.

@sixstringsnc Roger is, by far, one of the nicest PR people in the world. He knows who is he is, he does what he loves, and he’s always excited to talk to you about anything under the sun. He has a PR firm in Raleigh, he is a music buff, and his blog quotes lyrics from a song before every post (which I love). Check it out here.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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