Sitting in an airport after IABC World Conference

Like any good corporate communicator, I’m sitting in the airport pondering the last four days of learning by the fire hose method, and I’m gonna blog about it.

I attended my first IABC World Conference after about five years of coworker recommendations. You quickly realize the international bit in International Association of Business Communicators is not an exaggeration. If lovely foreign accents is your thing, this was the place to be. 

The following are a few notes About my experience, mostly because I don’t want to forget this when I get back to the office. 

  • Listen
  • Authentic, even vulnerable
  • Genuine
  • Clarity
  • Relatable
  • Cut the crap
  • Jargon is lazy, acronyms are even worse
  • Complex is not a problem, confusion is the problem
  • Social is a behavior, not a tool
  • It’s okay to entertain and make people smile (we often miss this mark in corporate communications)

The ongoing sentiment feels to me we are starved for genuine human connection – especially in cubicle land. We want someone to listen, we want to share real stories and we want a connection that’s deeper than the typical CEO blog.
I can totally get down with that. I also understand how that’s a tough sell in cubicle city. 

The toughest pill to swallow is knowing we still have to justify our existence to the business. The goal, in my mind, is to be so good at what you do it’s undeniable – and have the bravery to push for what’s good. 

I know this stuff. I wasn’t surprised or heard anything I didn’t already know during the conference sessions. However, I can see how a kick in the pants can boost my bravery to keep pushing for what so know is good and needed.


Monument Valley


Thousands of Instagrammers can’t be wrong.

They have the patience of Buddhist monks in waiting for the right moment for a selfie unencumbered by the horde of competing selfie takers staked our for a moment of hashtag travel bliss in front of what amounts to three very large rocks.

But that sunrise and sunset…

Curmudgeon grumbling aside, it was a blast to run away with my son for two days to one of the few sites I had yet to see despite living in Arizona for almost 30 years and half of that being less than a three-hour-drive away.

We gawked and camped and tried not to let the wind blow us away overnight. Yet we did not selfie.


“All these little girls are going to take over the world,” said my grandpa on the news he would be having another great-granddaughter. 

“I hope so,” I said. “If I can help it.”

Happy Birthday at Hogwarts

Happy Birthday Izzy from Zane Ewton on Vimeo.

We don’t always throw big birthday parties for our kids, but when we do, we try to make it fun. It usually ends up being stressful for weeks leading up to the party and there are several moments I want to say, “Eff this! Let’s go get pizza instead.”

It’s nice to turn our attention to something silly though and fuss about little details after a few months of fussing about quite real and important things.

We also have great kids who are sweet, considerate and work quite hard to be good kids. Also, we like having fun too.

Zoo Day

Zoo Day from Zane Ewton on Vimeo.

It’s certainly been a crazy few months around the world, but it’s also been a crazy few months at home. Then sometimes you get a day where you can sneak off and get four people into the Out of Africa Wildlife Park for just $15 because admission is free if it’s your birthday month. And we have three birthdays in January.

Watch the animals, forget your troubles, eat some bad Mexican food at a sketchy roadside restaurant and call it a good day.

Powering Parker, Arizona

Fairly often I’m able to sneak away from the office for a day to photograph or film employees out in the field. It’s always fun and illuminating tagging around with the terrific people who work around Arizona for APS.

This time around I spent a day in Parker, Arizona with some folks who are doing great work, not just in delivering electricity but supporting the community in big ways.

Every time I’m able to visit one of these spots in Arizona I’ve never been before I always want to go back and explore more of the state’s far-flung corners.

Stuffed and Alone (An Elephant Poem)


Blades of grass stab your back,

little plush elephant,

like the toddler who abandoned you

in the backyard, answering dinner’s call.


With your trunk pointed to the sky,

in between the setting sun and rising moon,

do you think about the day of play or

contemplate that lonely cloud?


Your friend will return, unless she forgets, and I

will pick you up, put you away and try

not to think of the day I won’t find

you in my backyard anymore.

Presented on this date: August 23, 1949

Published by the World Publishing Company

King James Version, Cleveland, Ohio,

found among the keepsakes,

illustrated, wound in tight black leather

around a zippered brick of lavender-stained

onion-skin pages. Ink seeps

between the verses.


Scratched in ballpoint,

births, marriages, deaths;

dates on a timeline

within pages still crisp with neglect.


Crinkled dog ears measure

a life pored over words,

but these sharp corners remain preserved.

Along the River Liffey


Back home in the desert,

my son has never seen a river

carve the heart of a city.


We watch the commuters hustle,

not a second

glance toward Liffey.

Gray skies over gray waters

bookend pastel walls of riverside

homes desperate for life in a sunless city.


He soaks it in

like rain on the shoulders of his

brand new coat.


In this city, poetry seeps from cobblestones

like piss in a pub alley. He wouldn’t

know about pubs, the stories told in pubs or

the endless flow of Guinness served in pubs.


Still a boy, he believes

the river carries water

fairies into the sea,

something to see

if only he could concentrate

without the honk of a late bus.

A Lighthouse Librarian

The first five pews ebb

and swell, a sea

of gray-haired ladies and bald men

like white caps and boulders

on the shore, dressed up in Sunday’s best.


A lone lighthouse in the sixth row,

my neighbor sits wrapped in black, dangled in silver,

metallic curls wind through bobby pins

and speckled fingers scribble poetry in the margins

of the church bulletin.


She led me along castle walls,

the endless deep of a two-bedroom home.

Her books ascend in stacks and flumes of dust

like a phoenix from the scraps of church bulletin poetry

stashed in the cracks.


Each book resides in its precise place

signed by authors; mementos

of a past life, foundation of a current life

the landlord frowns upon.

She’s a guardian of castaways and lover of the bargain bin.


Soon will come a Sunday

with an empty seat

on the sixth row

and a house full of books

without its storm light.


“No, these are not for sale,”

she says. “But sit down and I will share

each and every one with you.”

All I can do is sit

and listen.