Passing the Baton

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Reinforced by what I heard Denzel Washington say recently, on a Sunday morning. I was watching a little TV while at the same time doing many other things.  I like to call this “piddling.”    I don’t remember the specific TV show; but he was being interviewed about his life’s achievement.  He said he was passing the baton to younger actors; but he was still in the race.

It occurred to me that this why I have not retired. I have not passed my professional baton – yet!  Honestly, I am trying.

I own a 43-year-old marketing agency, First Class, Inc.  I keep talking about retiring; but really have not put a plan in place to make this happen. My clients and family understand that I am indeed a true “Planner.”  I cannot even cook a meal until my plan to keeping my kitchen clean is in place.

I am a detailed, organized administrator.  I always start with my goals, then comes my strategies, next is my tactics.  All of us who are in marketing usually take this route.  But, me, I can be dogmatic about this process. Only after my plan is in place do I feel good about the job.  If I cannot see it, believe it, I cannot do it.

It is important to me to pass on how I have managed to run this PR firm for almost 50 years, making a living, raising my 4 children, without too many mistakes.  I am not wealthy, but my bills are paid, I have never missed a payroll, and I have a great reputation in my community and in the world of public relations in Atlanta. This is my “sweet spot.”  I have worked for just about every African American business owner in Atlanta – from back in the day when there were not very many of us.  And I have assisted many major corporations access the Atlanta African American Community.  I often get asked the question, “Bunnie, can you tell me how to get the word about my xxxxx,” so much so that I wrote a book in 2007 entitled “Getting the Word Out:  How to Market your Ministry.  {Even though the book was written primarily for churches, the content is relevant for non-profits, as well as any small business where the owner treats his/her business like it is their “ministry.”}  This book is into the 2nd edition now.   Through the advice I offer in this book I am trying to pass the baton.

Unfortunately, I have not found the right person whom I want to pass the baton to; or better described, I have not found the person who wants to subscribe to my style of work ethic.  You see, I give away more of my services than I get paid for.  Why do I do this?  Because I recognize that my people, yes I mean most Black people who are in business, do not have the funds to pay the big bucks for the services I offer — like the major corporations have available to buy services such as media relations, community relations, public engagement, crises communications, media training, advertising, government affairs, etc.  You might call me crazy for working this way; but I am happy what the work I do.  Maybe I’ll find someone who understands that they don’t really need to be wealthy to be happy.  Someone who understands that you can live on less than $100,000 a year.  Someone who understand that you can cut your price or do somethings gratis.

I guess I will keep this up until the good Lord says it’s time to give it up. And even when I find this person to pass my baton to, I, like Denzel, will just remain in the race simply because I like to run.  I need the exercise to stay physically and mentally fit.

However, you know, I have raised some pretty great children.  They are carving out their own professions and living their own lives.   I tell them to “keep their noses clean, do good work, remember the least of these.”  So maybe I did pass the baton; and now I am just in the race – staying fit — to make sure they are alright.  The good Lord is keeping me here to witness their race and I am thankful.


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